Researchers say that a healthy heart beat obeys the "divine proportion" rule - a mathematical ratio found in natural and man-made structures of great beauty.
Their findings are in the Christmas issue published on bmj.com today.
Historically things that are beautiful often follow a mathematical formula known as the golden ratio. Examples of this include the florets in a cauliflower head, the Parthenon in Athens, Notre Dame cathedral in Paris and George Clooney's face. A team led by Professor Hanno Ulmer from Innsbruck Medical University in Austria has now gone one step further and is claiming that "well individuals exhibit the harmonious golden ratio."
Ulmer and his team evaluated blood pressure readings of over 160,000 people in western Austria who had taken part in a health promotion programme. The researchers found that individuals who had a ratio of 1.6180 between their systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) blood pressure counts were less likely to have a fatal heart attack. This figure equates to the mathematical sequence phi (1.6180339887) or golden rule ratio, brought to the world's attention by the Italian mathematician Leonardo Pisano, also known as Fibonacci.
Participants in the study who suffered fatal heart attacks had a higher ratio of 1.7459.
The authors conclude that: "Although this finding is not likely to be of practical relevance for individual clinicians, at a population level this may be an important phenomenon and should be investigated in other cohorts."