People with faster resting heart rate are at an increased risk of developing diabetes, a new large-scale study has warned.
An association between resting heart rate and diabetes suggests that heart rate measures could identify individuals with a higher future risk of diabetes, researchers said.
In a four-year study of 73,357 Chinese adults, researchers observed that faster heart rates were positively associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Researchers also found that faster heart rates were associated with impaired fasting glucose levels and a conversion from impaired fasting glucose levels to diabetes among the same population.
"In this study, we measured resting heart rate among about 100,000 Chinese adults and followed them for four years," said Xiang Gao, associate professor of nutritional sciences, Pennsylvania State University and a senior study author.
"We found participants with faster heart rates, suggesting lower automatic function, had increased risk of diabetes, pre-diabetes, and conversion from pre-diabetes to diabetes.
"Each additional 10 beats per minute was associated with 23 per cent increased risk of diabetes, similar to the effects of a 3 kilogramme per meter square increase in body mass index," said Gao.
Researchers combined their results with those of seven previously published studies including 97,653 men and women in total, on the same topic, and found a similar association - individuals with fast heart rate had 59 per cent increased risk of diabetes relative to those with slow heart rate.
"This suggests that faster heart rate could be a novel pre-clinical marker or risk factor for diabetes," Gao said.
Disease markers may indicate an increased risk of getting a disease, but only that and do not cause the disease.
Diabetes mellitus is a worldwide epidemic. Roughly 12 per cent of Chinese adults have diabetes and 50 per cent have pre-diabetes, researchers said.
Pre-diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, is blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
The researchers measured heart rates during a baseline exam administered in 2006-2007. After about five minutes rest, they recorded heart rates using a 12-lead electrocardiogram with participants lying on their backs.
During a four-year follow-up exam, the researchers identified 17,463 prediabetic cases and 4,649 diabetes cases. They examined glucose every two years, beginning in 2006.
The research was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.