The effect of age on heart rate in subjects free of heart disease. Studies by ambulatory electrocardiography and maximal exercise stress test.
To delineate the effects of true aging, undetected heart disease and deconditioning on heart rate, we performed 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiography and maximal exercise stress test on 101 subjects with normal hearts. The maximal heart rate recorded was 180 beats/min; the minimum was 35 beats/min. A distinct diurnal pattern was observed. With increasing age, a decrease of the maximal heart rate achieved during exercise stress test (r = 0.27, p = 0.05) or spontaneously recorded during the day (r = 0.41, p = 0.0005) or night (r = 0.24, p = 0.03) was observed. The resting and average heart rates were not affected by age. Older subjects had lower exercise tolerance (r = 0.41, p = 0.0001). Low exercise tolerance was associated with higher increments of heart rate for submaximal exercise levels (r = 0.0001) and lower maximal heart rates (r = 0.43, p - 0.008). These changes of heart rate with age are not due to undetected cardiac disease, because the subjects included in the study were meticulously screened by noninvasive and invasive means.
- Copyright © 1982 by American Heart Association