• Resting heart rate is a widely sought-after vital sign measured during physical examination
  • While 70 bpm is considered normal, athletes have RHR around 40 bpm
  • Per new research, normal resting heart rates can differ between individuals

Doctors measure resting heart rates as a part of routine clinical examination but it is rarely acted upon unless it is well outside a normal range. Ever since the advent of wearables, heart rates have been measured continuously, making it possible to accurately identify a person’s ‘normal’ heart rate. But new research suggested that normal resting heart rates can differ between individuals. The findings of the study challenge the conventional approach to take this simple vital sign.

It suggested that monitoring how a person’s resting heart rate fluctuates over time might give more information about health than comparing the person’s heart rate to that of the general population.

"What is normal for you may be unusual for someone else and suggest an illness," Live Science quoted the study’s co-author Giorgio Quer of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California. “Viewing a person's heart rate data over the long term may prove to be a rich source of information" for evaluating their health,” he added.

The study included 92,457 Americans who consistently wore a heart rate wearable for at least 20 hours daily for 35 weeks. The researchers explored the range in daily resting heart rate variability between individuals, and the long-term as well as short-term changes in the trajectory of an individuals' daily RHR.

The findings suggested that RHR was 65 beats per minute with a range of 40-109 bpm among all the participants. Individuals have a daily RHR that is normal for them but can differ from another person’s normal levels by as much as 70 bpm.

While 70 bpm is considered normal, healthy athletes have resting heart rates far below that. And pregnant women have a resting heart rate above the average levels. RHR below 65 bpm and above 90 bpm have both been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Doctors have long recognized the limitations of resting heart rates and most of them agree that a heart rate viewed in isolated and compared to the average provides very little useful information pertaining to the current health status of a person.

Resting heart rate differs from a person to another geralt, Pixabay