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Resting heart rate as a biomarker for tracking change in cardiorespiratory fitness of UK adults: The Fenland Study

By Tomas I Gonzales, Justin Jeon, Timothy Lindsay, Kate Westgate, Ignacio Perez-Pozuelo, Stefanie Hollidge, Katrien Wijndaele, Kirsten Rennie, Nita G. Forouhi, Simon J. Griffin, Nicholas J. Wareham, Soren Brage

Posted 02 Jul 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.01.20144154

Aims Resting heart rate (RHR) is inversely associated with cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) but few studies have investigated the nature of this relationship in large population samples. We examined the association between RHR and CRF in UK adults and explored factors that may influence this relationship. Methods and Results In a population-based sample of 5,143 men and 5,722 women (aged 29-65 years), mean (SD) RHR while seated, supine, and during sleep was 67.6 (9.8), 63.5 (8.9), and 56.9 (6.9) bpm, respectively. The age- and sex-adjusted association with CRF as assessed by submaximal treadmill testing was -0.26 (95%CI -0.27; -0.24), -0.31 (95%CI -0.33; -0.29), and -0.31 (95%CI -0.34; -0.29) ml O2*kg-1*beat-1. Sequential adjustment for objectively measured obesity and physical activity attenuated the RHR coefficient by 10% and 50%, respectively. In longitudinal analyses of 6,589 participants re-examined after 6 years, each 1 bpm increase in supine RHR was associated with 0.23 (95%CI 0.20; 0.25) ml O2*min-1*kg-1 decrease in CRF. Conclusions Across all measures, RHR is inversely associated with CRF; half of this association is explained by obesity and physical activity, suggesting CRF changes achieved through altered behaviour could be tracked through changes in RHR, a notion supported by longitudinal results. As well as its utility as a biomarker of CRF at population-level, serial measurements of RHR may facilitate personal goal setting/evaluation and remote patient monitoring.

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