Effect of changing heart rate during treatment of hypertension on incidence of heart failure
An elevated heart rate (HR) at rest at baseline is associated with an increased risk of incident heart failure (HF) and with greater cardiovascular event rates in patients with chronic HF. However, despite the high attributable risk of hypertension for HF, whether the in-treatment HR predicts incident HF in patients with treated hypertension has not been evaluated. The HR was evaluated on annual electrocardiograms from 9,024 patients with hypertension without HF who were treated with losartan- or atenolol-based regimens. During a mean follow-up of 4.7 ± 1.1 years, HF developed in 285 patients (3.2%). On multivariate Cox analyses adjusted for randomized treatment, the baseline risk factors for HF, baseline and in-treatment blood pressure, QRS duration, and electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy, a greater in-treatment HR predicted a 45% greater adjusted risk of new HF for every 10-beats/min increase in the HR (95% confidence interval [CI] 34% to 57%) or a 159% greater risk of HF in patients with the persistence or development of a HR of ≥84 beats/min (95% CI 88% to 257%). In contrast, with adjustment for the same covariates, the baseline HR as a continuous variable was a significantly less powerful predictor of new HF (hazard ratio 1.15 per 10 beats/min, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.28) and a baseline HR of ≥84 beats/min did not predict new HF (hazard ratio 1.00, 95% CI 0.63 to 1.58). In conclusion, a greater in-treatment HR on the serial electrocardiograms predicts a greater risk of incident HF during antihypertensive treatment, independent of the covariates, in patients with hypertension with electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy. These findings support serial HR assessment to improve the risk stratification of patients with hypertension.