Resting pulse rate reference data for children, adolescents, and adults; United States, 1999-2008
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Resting pulse rate reference data for children, adolescents, and adults; United States, 1999-2008

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  • Description:
    OBJECTIVE: This report presents national reference data on resting pulse rate (RPR), for all ages of the U.S. population, from 1999-2008. METHODS: During 1999-2008, 49,114 persons were examined. From this, a normative sample comprising 35,302 persons was identified as those who did not have a current medical condition or use a medication that would affect the RPR. RPR was obtained after the participant had been seated and had rested quietly for approximately 4 minutes. RESULTS: RPR is inversely associated with age. There is a mean RPR of 129 beats per minute (standard error, or SE, 0.9) at less than age 1 year, which decreases to a mean RPR of 96 beats/min (SE 0.5) by age 5, and further decreases to 78 beats/min (SE 0.3) in early adolescence. The mean RPR in adulthood plateaus at 72 beats/min (SE 0.2) (p < 0.05 for trend). In addition, there is a significant gender difference, with the male pulse rate plateauing in early adulthood, while the female resting pulse plateaus later when middle-aged. There are two exceptions, that is, infants under age 1 year and adults aged 80 and over, when the mean RPR is statistically and significantly higher in females than in males (females under age 20 have an RPR of 90 beats/min, SE 0.3, and males under age 20 have an RPR of 86 beats/min, SE 0.3, p <0.05; females aged 20 and over have an RPR of 74 beats/min, SE 0.2, and males aged 20 and over have an RPR of 71 beats/min, SE 0.3, p <0.05). After controlling for age effects, non-Hispanic black males have a significantly (p <0.001) lower mean RPR (74 beats/min) than non-Hispanic white males (77 beats/min) and Mexican-American males (76 beats/min). Among females, non-Hispanic black females (79 beats/min) and Mexican-American females (79 beats/min) had statistically and significantly (p < 0.01) lower mean RPRs compared with non-Hispanic white females (80 beats/min). Among males, the prevalence of clinically defined tachycardia (abnormally fast heart rate, RPR 100 beats/min) is 1.3% (95% CI = 1.1-1.7), and the prevalence of clinically defined bradycardia (abnormally slow heart rate, RPR < 60 beats/min) is 15.2% (95% CI = 14.1-16.4). For adult females, these prevalences are 1.9% (95% CI = 1.6-2.3) for clinical tachycardia and 6.9% (95% CI = 6.2-7.8) for clinical bradycardia. Controlling for age, males have higher odds (2.43, 95% CI = 2.09-2.83) of having bradycardia, and notably lower odds (0.71, 95% CI = 0.52-0.97) of having tachycardia than women. CONCLUSIONS: The data provides current, updated population-based percentiles of RPR, which is one of the key vital signs routinely measured in clinical practice.
  • Content Notes:
    by Yechiam Ostchega, Kathryn S. Porter, Jeffery Hughes, Charles F. Dillon, and Tatiana Nwankwo, Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys "CS224750." Includes bibliographical references (p. 12).
  • Pubmed ID:
    21905522
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