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Pulse Rate, Heart and Cardiovascular Disease and Erectile Dysfunction

I used to know a marathoner in his early 30's.  He had a pulse rate of 50!  Is this good, bad or neutral for your health?  Of course, the traditional wisdom is that the lower the pulse rate, the more effecient your cardiovascular and circulatory systems are and therefore the less load on your heart.  In other words, the training effect is the sign of a healthy, happy heart that does not have to work as hard. Has this actually held up in the studies?

In fact, scientists have made an interesting observation:  virtually all mammals get about a billion heartbeats. [5] (We humans actually get 3 billion.) Yes, there is another clock ticking:  the faster the mammal's pulse rate, the shorter the life expectancy.  So, as an overall principle, it's clearly in your best interest to slow down the ol' ticker.  Scientists have even extended the lifespan of mice given drugs to slow down their heart rate. [3]

Researchers have found another interesting aspect of pulse rate: pulse rate "issues", in particular a high pulse rate, are a sign of heart disease.  One study found that men with a pulse rate over 80 had a survival rate of seven years less! [1] Seven years is a huge amount for just one risk factor.  Yet another study verified the same thing - higher pulse rate is associated with increased mortality - and added another twist:  higher mortality was observed in those whose heart beat five times per minute faster in the morning. [2]  A heart rate of 75 or 80 has shown up particular bad in the research:  you definitely want to keep your pulse rate below 70 for sure to play it safe.  This was verified in yet another study where ""every extra 10 beats per minute higher than a normal resting pulse was associated with a 16 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 25 percent greater risk of all-cause death"". [6] [7] To put numbers on that, a pulse rate of 84 was linked to a 55 percent increased cardiovascular mortality and a 79 percent risk of dying from all causes.

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Furthermore, your heart rate recovery is another important indicator of mortality.  This is the ability of our heart, after exercise, to recover to a lower pulse rate.  Those with the beginnings of heart problems have a heart that cannot return easily to baseline.

The reasons that pulse rate is so linked to cardiovascular issues is many fold.  One surprising one appears to be the fact that a slower pulse rate actually lessens arteriosclerosis according to one recent study with mice. [4]  A low pulse rate is also correlated with good autonomic and parasympathetic nervous system function, which in turn is associated with good heart health.

So what does this have to do with erectile dysfunction?  Heart health is penis health:  the two go together. As I like to say:  a happy heart is a happy penis. And the beauty of pulse rate is that you can measure it yourself.  It's an easy way to get a gauge as to your heart health, especially if it's a little on the high side. 

Remember:  you've got about a few billion beats one way or the other.  So exercise and clean out those arteries using the Low Fat (or Ornish) Diet and get that pulse rate down while you still can.  The clock is ticking...

NOTE:  Pulse rate can be rated to thyroid issues.  A slow pulse rate in particular can be a sign of hypothyroidism.

REFERENCES:

1) Kardiologiia, 2005, 45(10):45-50

2) Amer J of Hypertension, Nov 2004, 17(11):1005-1010

3) John Hopkins Med J, 1971, 128:169-191

4) Circulation, 2008, 117:2377-2387

5) Cleveland Clinic J of Med, 2009, 76(2):822

6) European Heart Journal, 2010, First published online: July 2, 2010, "All-cause and cardiovascular mortality in relation to changing heart rate during treatment of hypertensive patients with electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy".

7) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812151640.htm

8) Consumer Reprots on Health, Nov 2010, p. 2-3.

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