Heart rate, lifespan, and mortality risk

Gus Q. Zhang, Weiguo Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

84 Scopus citations


An increasing body of scientific research and observational evidence indicates that resting heart rate (HR) is inversely related to the lifespan among homeothermic mammals and within individual species. In numerous human studies with patients stratified by resting HR, increased HR is universally associated with greater risk of death. The correlation between HR and maximum lifespan seems to be due to both basal metabolic rate and cardiovascular-related mortality risk. Both intrinsic and extrinsic factors are already postulated to determine how the biological clock works, through regulating and modulating the processes such as protein oxidation, free radical production, inflammation and telomere shortening. Given the remarkable correlation between HR and lifespan, resting HR should be seriously considered as another possible cap on maximum lifespan. Future research is needed to determine whether deliberate cardiac slowing, through methods like lifestyle modification, pharmacological intervention, or medical devices, can decelerate biological clock of aging, reduce cardiovascular mortality and increase maximum lifespan in humans in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
JournalAgeing Research Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Aging
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Heart rate (HR)
  • Inflammation
  • Lifespan
  • Metabolism
  • Mortality
  • Oxidative stress
  • Sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Aging
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neurology


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