OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association of resting heart rate with suicide in two large cohorts.
METHOD: The MJ cohort (Taiwan) included 532 932 adults from a health check-up programme (1994-2008). The HUNT cohort (Norway) included 74 977 adults in the Nord-Trøndelag County study (1984-1986), followed up to 2004. In both cohorts heart rate was measured at baseline, and suicide was ascertained through linkage to cause-of-death registers. Risk of suicide was estimated using Cox proportional hazards models.
RESULTS: There were 569 and 188 suicides (average follow-up period of 8.1 and 16.9 years) in the MJ and HUNT cohorts respectively. Sex- and age-adjusted hazard ratio for every 10 beat increase in heart rate per minute was 1.08 (95% Confidence Interval 1.00-1.16) and 1.24 (1.12-1.38) in the MJ and HUNT cohorts, respectively. In the MJ cohort this association was confined to individuals with a history of heart diseases vs. those without such a history (P for interaction = 0.008). In the HUNT cohort the association did not differ by history of heart diseases and was robust to adjustment for health-related life style, medication use, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
CONCLUSION: Elevated resting heart rate may be a marker of increased suicide risk.