December 11, 2008 / 7:02 PM / in 9 years

High heart rates linked to obesity, diabetes: study

HONG KONG (Reuters) - High resting heart rates may be linked to the development of obesity and diabetes, a Japanese study shows.

Heart rate is regulated by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), a network of neurons in the body operating without conscious thought. It is also believed to affect the large intestine, blood vessels, pupil dilation, perspiration and blood pressure.

In an article published in the American Journal of Hypertension, researchers in Japan said people with resting heart rates of over 80 beats per minute had higher odds of developing insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

The project was one of the first studies to assess the impact of higher heart rates on the body’s metabolism. It involved 614 participants who were followed over a period of 20 years.

The participants were divided into four groups: those with heart beat rates of under 60, 60-69, 70-79 and over 80.

Compared to those with heart rates of under 60, those who had rates of more than 80 were 1.34 times more likely to be obese, 1.2 times more likely to develop insulin resistance and 4.39 times more likely to end up diabetic.

“These findings provide a mechanism that might explain how obesity and the SNS are linked. This may, in turn, increase understanding of their causal role in the development of heart attack and stroke, the leading causes of death worldwide,” the researchers said in a statement.

The researchers believe that excessive nerve activities may lead to obesity because they lower the amount of fat burn in the body.

Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn

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