Heart Rate and Inflammation

The best indication of your overall health is a few beats away

Resting Heart Rate

Resting heart rate is a measure of the number of beats your heart makes in a minute, expressed as beats per minute (BPM). Those who are well trained in high-intensity aerobic exercise have very low resting heart rates, while those who lead more sedentary lifestyles tend to have high ones. The aerobic training pushes our hearts to work harder, which leads to a greater amount of blood pushed out per heart beat, known as “stroke volume.”

Heart rates are important for deducing people’s level of health because of their lack of ambiguity. They are measured in a clear, standardized way, without much room for individual interpretation from either the patient or doctor. As numbers, they can easily be charted and compared, revealing insightful trends. This can be done across an individual’s medical history, or by comparing an individual to data gathered from large groups of people.

What does your heart rate say about you? Here’s a list of just a few things you can learn.

Life Expectancy

Astoundingly, the simple measure of your heart rate may be one of the best ways to determine it.

As mentioned previously, a low resting heart rate is a good sign of health and cardiovascular ability. A strong heart, and low resting heart rate, means a reduced likelihood of cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, and diabetes. A lower resting heart rate has even been linked to better brain functioning.

In an incredible longitudinal study, 3000 men were studied for 16 years. In the study, the researchers discovered that a high resting heart rate was linked to “lower physical fitness and higher blood pressure, body weight, and levels of circulating blood fats.” Remarkably, the study found that the higher the resting heart rate, the greater one’s risk was of premature death. Numerically, a resting heart rate of 81 to 90 beats per minute doubled the chance of premature death, while resting heart rates over 90 tripled that chance.

Further, some scientists have hypothesized that a low resting heart rate leads to greater longevity, possibly because the heart has a natural limit to the number of beats it can put out in a lifetime. While a controversial theory, it could possibly explain why those with lower resting heart rates consistently outlive those with higher resting heart rates.


Studies have shown that a higher resting heart rate is directly correlated to higher levels of inflammation, higher levels of white blood cells, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. This is important for your health for a number of reasons. To begin with, inflammation is the body’s natural response to fight infection. Inflammation and the production of white blood cells and C-reactive protein leads to the typical symptoms we associate with sickness, like a runny nose or a high body temperature. Inflammation also contributes  to autoimmune disorders, like allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, and gastrointestinal disease. . Quite simply, higher levels of inflammation – especially when not needed as a defense against illness or germs – leads to sickness and general feelings of ill health.

Inflammation has also been linked to reduced longevity. In a remarkable study, it was shown that centenarians – those that live past 100 – show markedly reduced levels of inflammation. Making the links between these two findings demonstrates that to live longer, a lower resting heart rate is the key to reduced inflammation, which could be your key to living well into the 2100s.

Key Takeaways

All great relationships require great listening skills. Our relationships with our bodies are no different. Living longer may be as simple as listening to the activity of our hearts. Our heart rate is a good indicator of overall aerobic ability, general health, and levels of bodily inflammation.

Now listen to your heart with the Rthm app. What’s it saying?