Keeping track of your heart rate is probably a good thing. Obsessing about it probably isn’t, according to the American Heart Association.
That’s one drawback of the increasing popularity of wearable devices that constantly monitor heart rates, said Dr. Tracy Stevens, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri.
“I’ve had people suffer significant injuries when they’re trying to check their heart rate while exercising,” she said. “They take a hand off their treadmill and shoot right off the back and fall off.”
Even without a monitor, the preoccupation can have consequences.
“They’ll push too hard on their carotid arteries to check their pulse, which instigates a reflex that drops their blood pressure, and they pass out,” Stevens said. People shouldn’t put “too much emphasis on a number.”
A 2013 study published in the journal Heart of nearly 3,000 men in Denmark showed the risk of death increased by 16% for every 10 beats per minute increase in resting heart rate. But Stevens said she is far more focused on high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and other risk factors for heart disease.