Objectives: To determine the relationship between heart rate response during low-grade physical exertion (6-min walk) with mortality and adverse cardiovascular outcomes in the elderly. Methods: Participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study who completed a 6-min walk test were included. We used delta heart rate (difference between postwalk heart rate and resting heart rate) as a measure of chronotropic response and examined its association with (1) all-cause mortality and (2) incident coronary heart disease event, using multivariable Cox regression models. Results: We included 2,224 participants (mean age 77 ± 4 years; 60% women; 85% white). The average delta heart rate was 26 beats/min. Participants in the lowest tertile of delta heart rate (<20 beats/min) had higher risk-adjusted mortality [hazard ratio (HR) 1.18, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.00–1.40] and incident coronary heart disease (HR 1.37, 95% CI 1.05–1.78) compared to subjects in the highest tertile (≥30 beats/min), with a significant linear trend across tertiles (p for trend <0.05 for both outcomes). This relationship was not significant after adjustment for distance walked. Conclusion: Impaired chronotropic response during a 6-min walk test was associated with an increased risk of mortality and incident coronary heart disease among the elderly. This association was attenuated after adjusting for distance walked.
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