Could a low heart rate influence a man’s criminal activity later in life? A new study suggests that this might be a possibility.
Swedish researchers from Karolinska Institute near Stockholm conducted a study by analysing the data compiled by the government throughout decades, which also included records on resting heart rates in men. They managed to trace the criminal activity of approximately 700,000 eighteen year old young men. The results were later on published in JAMA Psychiatry.
Antti Latvala, the study’s author, says that not all men who have low resting heart rates will ultimately end up committing violent crimes. That being said there is still an obvious connection between violent behaviour and a low heart rate, adds Antti.
Until 2009, young men from Sweden had their blood pressure and resting heart rate measured, before entering the military service which was compulsory at the time. A number of 710,264 records were analyzed by Antti Latvala and her team, of men born between 1958 and 1991, with a follow-up of 35 years.
The researchers then checked the crime register in order to find out whether or not any of these people had criminal records. Medical records were also looked into to see whether or not the men had been in an accident or not.
Research shows that low resting heart rate is situated between 35 and 60 beats per minute, while high resting heart rate is located between 83 and 145 beats per minute.
The results of the study showed that men who had very low resting heart rates were up to 49% more likely to exhibit violent behaviour and to commit brutal crimes, as opposed to their counterparts, the men with high resting heart rates. 33% of them were also more likely to be convicted drug offences, or other types of non-violent crime.
Researchers also found that men who had a low heart were more likely to turn to illegal or dangerous activities in order to get a rush of adrenaline, because they had low levels of physiological arousal.
British psychologist Adrian Raine of the University of Pennsylvania explained that these men have an appeal for risky situations which explains why they are more likely to get injured in a fight or accident.
Raine suggests that this study raises a number of important questions. “If we accept this logic, should the legal system in turn accept low RHR (resting heart rate) as a mitigating factor for the commission of serious violence?” he says.
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