Research Article: Values of heart rate at rest in children and adults living at different altitudes in the Andes

Date Published: February 28, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Christian R. Mejia, Matlin M. Cárdenas, Dayanne Benites-Gamboa, Armando Miñan-Tapia, Gloria S. Torres-Riveros, Michael Paz, Yomayra Perez, José Rojas-Camayo, Xianwu Cheng.


The heart rate (HR) is useful for the monitoring of patients, but almost no studies have been found which describe their variations according to different geographic locales and altitudes using centiles in children and adults.

Descriptive, cross-sectional study of secondary data. Measurements were taken with a calibrated pulse oximeter; our participants resided in host cities for more than 2 months and underwent clinical evaluations by physicians. The results were categorized according to their age group and the altitude of residence using centile charts.

Our sample size consisted of 6,289 subjects across different villages in Peru. Using Pearson correlation between HR and altitude, it was found in the group of patients aged 1–5 years, a coefficient of -0.118 (p value = 0.012), in the group of patients aged 6–17, 0.047 (p value = 0.025), in the group of patients aged 18–50, -0.044 (p value = 0.041) and for the group of patients aged 51–80, 0.042 (p value = 0.256). In the groups of 1–5, 6–17 and 18–50 years of age, the variations were negligible but statistically significant due to our large sample size. When all of the data was evaluated, HR values were also found to have negligible variations according to the residence altitude, with a Pearson coefficient of -0.033 (p value = 0.009). Centiles charts were used to describe the distribution of HR for different age groups by altitude of residence.

There are minimal variations of the HR according to the altitude of residence in all age groups.

Partial Text

A human being’s heart rate (HR) is one of the vital signs that is used in many clinical scenarios, like in anesthesiology, for example, where HR is one of the minimum monitoring data needed, reducing the risk of incidents by providing an early warning to reduce the risk of adverse events [1–3]. However, this vital sign may have variations according to multiple factors, one of the least studied being the variation due to the altitude where people reside. In the literature, there are almost no studies which evaluated its variability in patients residing at higher altitudes [4–7].

Data from a total of 6289 people was analyzed. The average HR in all altitudes in children of 1–5 years old was 101.9 beats / min (n = 984), in children aged 6–17 years, it was 86.7 beats / min (n = 2363), in adults of 18–50, it was 76.2 beats / min (n = 2194) and in adults 51–80, it was 73.7 beats / min (n = 720). The mean resting heart rate ranged from 83.2 bpm (at 154m) to 90.4 bpm (at 5100 m). (cf. Table 1)

Our study contained a large sample size which included a broad age range of people from various altitudes. It showed that while the heart rate (HR) had minimal but statistically significant, variations according to the residence altitude in our younger and middle aged patients, the variations were not statistically significant in our elderly population (51–80 years).




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