AIMS: In order to examine the hypothesis that elevated resting heart rate (RHR) is associated with impaired cognitive score, we investigated the relationship between RHR and cognitive score in middle-aged, elderly and old Danish subjects from the general population.
METHODS: Composite cognitive scores derived from the result of 5 age-sensitive cognitive tests for a total of 7,002 individuals (Middle-aged Danish twin: n = 4,132, elderly Danish twins: n = 2,104 and Danish nonagenarian: n = 766) divided according to RHR and compared using linear regression models adjusted for sex, age, previous heart conditions and hypertension. RHR was assessed by palpating radial pulse. Genetic and shared environmental confounding was addressed in intrapair analyses of 2,049 twin pairs.
RESULTS: In unadjusted multivariate models and in multivariable models adjusting for age, sex, heart conditions and hypertension, RHR was not associated with cognitive function. Furthermore, the intrapair analyses showed that RHR was not associated with cognitive score testing within twin pairs, as measured by the proportion of twin pairs in which the twin with higher RHR also was the twin with the lowest composite cognitive score (1,049 pairs of 2,049 pairs [51% (95% CI 49-53), p < 0.289]).
CONCLUSION: While elevated RHR has been shown to be associated with adverse health events and poor fitness level, RHR has no relation to cognitive function in the general population.