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Heart Rate, Life Expectancy and Weight

Before attending medical school (when the dinosaurs roamed the land), I remember hearing an old adage, something to the effect:  “We only have a certain number of heart beats that we are destined for, and when this number is reached, we die.”

Well, I certainly did not learn in medical school that this statement was true.  There are certainly many other factors that influence our life expectancies aside from how many heartbeats we have.  

BUT, studies do show that there is a correlation between heart rate and life expectancy.  The faster the heart rate, the lower the life expectancy, with every other risk being equal.  The physiological reason for this:  Increasing heart rate increases the amount of work the heart ventricles are doing as well as increasing the heart’s demand for oxygen.  Over a prolonged period of time this will increase the chances of heart problems developing, which in turn, lower life expectancy.

Studies also show a correlation of weight control with heart rate:  Obesity causes an increase in heart rate.  Poor weight control leads to an increase risk of other heart issues developing such as coronary artery blockage and atrial fibrillation.  

A “normal” resting heart rate is described as between 60-100 but for those with resting heart rates about 80, this should be somewhat of a concern.  Beta blockers (a class of blood pressure meds) slow the heart rate down and these meds have been shown to increase the life expectancy of heart disease patients.  

What is your heart rate?  If you do not know how to check your own pulse, come on in and Norma or Stefanie can check this for you…and that is yet another reason to come in for your FREE monthly body scan right before the New Year feast.

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