What your resting heart rate reveals about your longevity

Eating less red meat, reducing sodium, getting plenty of light exercise: Most health-conscious people are familiar with ways they can reduce their risk of heart disease.

But according to a recent study, there might be a risk factor that’s under the radar for many adults.

As reported by Science Daily, the medical journal Open Heart has published a study that found that men in their 50s who have a resting heart rate of 75 beats per minute or higher are twice as likely to die of heart disease within 11 years than peers with a resting rate of 55 bpm or fewer.

From 1993 to 2014, the study tracked the health of 798 men all born in 1943 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The team divided the subjects into four ranges of resting heart rate: 55 or fewer bpm; 56 bpm to 65 bpm; 66 bpm to 75 bpm; and more than 75 bpm.

Based on those 21 years of research, the team concluded that men who maintain a stable resting heart rate between the ages of 50 and 60 are 44% less likely to suffer cardiovascular disease before age 71 than their peers whose bpm rose during that period.

In fact, they reported, every bpm increase between 50 and 60 boosts the risk of death by 3% during the next 11 years.

Resting heart rates are influenced by your genes, but staying healthy and active makes a big difference over time.

While a resting heart rate of 50 bpm to 100 bpm is considered normal, those with heart rates of 75 or above were more likely to be smokers, less physically active, or generally more stressed.

In other words, habits that promote overall help also lower heart rates.

“As the study only involved [50+ year old] men, we need a lot more data to really investigate whether this link is true for all of us — men and women of any age,” Ashleigh Li, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation said. In the meantime, men and women of all ages can get used to monitoring their heart rates over time in order to prevent heart disease going forward.

Catching a rise in heart rate early on could very well save lives.

This article originally appeared in Considerable.