Association of resting heart rate with cognitive decline and dementia in older adults: A population-based cohort study

Resting heart rate (RHR) predicts future risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, longitudinal studies investigating the relationship of RHR with cognitive decline are scarce.

Methods: This population-based cohort study included 2147 participants (age≥60) in SNAC-K who were free of dementia and regularly followed from 2001–2004 to 2013–2016. RHR was assessed with electrocardiogram. Dementia was diagnosed following the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Revision criteria. Global cognitive function was assessed using Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Data were analyzed using Cox and linear mixed-effects models.

Results: RHR≥80 (vs. 60–69) bpm was associated with a multi-adjusted hazard ratio of 1.55 (95% confidence interval 1.06−2.27) for dementia. The association remained significant after excluding participants with prevalent and incident CVDs. Similarly, RHR≥80 bpm was associated with a multi-adjusted β-coefficient of –0.13 (–0.21 to –0.04) for MMSE score.

Discussion: Higher RHR is associated with increased risk for dementia and faster cognitive decline independent of CVDs in a general population of elderly people.