Heart Rate Linked to Mental Health in Men
According to a new study from Sweden, young men with an elevated heart rate are at increased risk for developing mental health problems—including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and others—later in life. The study analyzed data from 1969 to 2010, and involved about 1.8 million men.
At the age of 18, each man’s heart rate and blood pressure were measured and recorded during a medical exam. Researchers determined which of the men later developed mental illness using a national registry that contains information about psychiatric treatment. For every 10-beat-per-minute increase in resting heart rate at 18, the researchers found a small—five to 18 percent—higher risk for mental health problems. Interestingly, lower resting heart rates were associated with higher rates of substance abuse and violent crime convictions.
The associations identified in this study do not prove cause and effect. In fact, conditions like anxiety disorders, OCD, and depression often begin in early adolescence—meaning they are already present by the age of 18. Women were not included in the study for a number of reasons, one being that they normally have higher heart rates than men.
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