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What Your Resting Heart Rate Might Say About Your Mental Health

Your heart tells you a lot of things, including when you need to start doing a little more of that thing called cardio and why you shouldn’t buy salsa labeled “death spice.”  But a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that your ticker might even be an indicator or future mental health … or lack there of.

Researchers looked at the resting heart rates of nearly 1.8 million men between 1969 and 2010. The data was obtained when men were 18 years old as a part of a medical exam required for registering for the Swedish Armed Forces. Then they combined this with data from Sweden’s National Patient Register — a database with information about all inpatient psychiatric admissions in Sweden dating back to 1973 — in order to see how many of these men would develop mental disorders later in life.

Overall, they found that young men with resting heart rates above 82 beats per minute had a 69 percent increased risk for developing obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a 21 percent increased risk for schizophrenia, and an 18 percent increased risk for anxiety disorders, compared to men with resting heart rates below 62 beats per minute. Still, that’s not so bad when you consider the fact that lower resting heart rates were linked with increased risk for substance abuse and violent crime convictions. Talk about getting ticked off.




Before you start tracking your kid’s heart rate on your walls right next to their height, realize there are a few caveats to these findings. First, researchers only looked at men (sorry daughters) in the armed forces, which can come with it’s own circumstantial future mental health baggage. The authors of the study also stress that more research needs to be done around the role of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates heart rate, and it’s influence on mental health. Once they do, maybe you’ll finally know what the hell Edgar Allan Poe was talking about.

[H/T] Live Science