Published On: Sat, May 23rd, 2015

Faster heart rate linked to diabetes risk

Doctor taking patient's pulse.

Heart rate measures could identify individuals with a higher future risk of diabetes, according to a four-year study of about 100, 000 Chinese adults.

The research found that faster resting heart rates were associated with an increased risk of developing the disease.

More heart beats per minute were also linked to poorer fasting blood sugar levels.

“In this study, we measured resting heart rate, ” said US researcher Dr Xiang Gao, from Pennsylvania state university,  “We found participants with faster heart rates, suggesting lower automatic function, had increased risk of diabetes, pre-diabetes, and conversion from pre-diabetes to diabetes.

“Each additional 10 beats per minute was associated with 23 percent increased risk of diabetes, similar to the effects of a 3 kilogram per meter square increase in body mass index.”

“We further combined our results with those of seven previously published studies, including 97, 653 men and women in total, on the same topic, and we found a similar association — individuals with fast heart rate had 59 percent increased risk of diabetes relative to those with slow heart rate.”

“This suggests that faster heart rate could be a novel pre-clinical marker or risk factor for diabetes, ” Gao said.

Disease markers may indicate an increased risk of getting a disease, but only that and do not cause the disease.

Diabetes mellitus is a worldwide epidemic. Roughly 12 percent of Chinese adults have diabetes and 50 percent have pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, is blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

During the four-year follow-up period, the scientists identified 17, 463 pre-diabetic cases and 4, 649 diabetes cases.

All the study participants were employees of the Kailuan Coal Co, Ltd, a coal mining company in China. For this reason, they could not be viewed as representative of the general population, said the researchers.

However, combining the findings with those from other individuals with different social and cultural backgrounds revealed a similar association between heart rate and diabetes risk.

The researchers published their results in a recent issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology.

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