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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2016 May;71(3):463-73. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbu163. Epub 2014 Dec 6.

Social Disadvantage and Social Isolation Are Associated With a Higher Resting Heart Rate: Evidence From The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

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The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, Department of Medical Gerontology, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering, Mercer's Institute for Successful Aging, St. James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, Department of Medical Gerontology, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Western Gateway Building, University College Cork, Corcaigh, Ireland.



A high resting heart rate (RHR) represents a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and individuals from poorer backgrounds have a higher RHR compared with their more advantaged peers. This study investigates the pathways through which low socioeconomic status (SES) contributes to a higher RHR.


The sample involved data for 4,888 respondents who were participating in the first wave of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing. Respondents completed a detailed interview at home and underwent a 5-min baseline electrocardiograph recording as part of a clinic-based health assessment. SES was indexed using household income.


The mean difference in RHR between those at polarized ends of the income distribution was 2.80 beats per minute (bpm) (95% CI = 1.54, 4.06; p < .001), with the magnitude of the socioeconomic differential being greater for men (4.15 bpm; 95% CI = 2.18, 6.12; p < .001) compared with women (1.57 bpm; 95% CI = 0.04, 3.10; p < .05). Psychosocial factors including social network size and loneliness accounted for a sizeable proportion of the socioeconomic differential in RHR, particularly among men.


The finding that poorer people have a higher RHR reinforces the need for additional research exploring the pathways through which social inequalities are translated into biological inequalities.


IRISH cohort study; Loneliness; Resting heart rate; Social networks; Socioeconomic status

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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