Study Looks at Resting Heart Rate Differences

Posted On: 02-07-2020
Study Looks at Resting Heart Rate Differences
It’s not uncommon to have your heart rate measured during a checkup with your doctor. However, a new study is highlighting the limitations of identifying what’s considered a “normal” heart rate.

Researchers from Scripps Research Translational Institute collected wearable tracker data from nearly 92,500 people in the United States. The participants wore a Fitbit tracker for at least 20 hours per day, at least two days per week, and over a course of 35 weeks or more.

The researchers found that average resting heart rate varied across age, sex, sleep habits, and body mass index, as expected. However, these factors accounted for less than 10 percent of the total variations. The daily resting heart rates in the participants differed from one individual to the next by as much as 70 bpm (beats per minute).

While most participants maintained fairly stable daily resting heart rates, 20 percent had at least one week during the study where their resting heart rate fluctuated by 10 bpm or higher. Women of childbearing age showed a greater variable resting rate, when compared to men. The study’s findings? Your resting heart rate can differ significantly from another person the same age. What’s healthy for you might not be considered healthy for another individual. There is not necessarily one standard “normal” heart rate.

While a resting heart rate that differs from the population-level average might not be a cause for concern, change within one individual can be. If your heart rate changes from your normal baseline, it could indicate problems such as overactive thyroid, infection, stress, chronic pain, or other causes.

More research is needed in order to learn how to use data from fitness trackers. These trackers are not as accurate as medical-grade monitors.

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