A  A  A   Print
Get Fit in Middle Age to Cut Heart Failure Risk, Study Says

Get Fit in Middle Age to Cut Heart Failure Risk, Study Says

WEDNESDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- People who are obese or out of shape in their 40s or 50s might think it's too late to start getting fit, but new research finds that shaping up in middle age lowers the odds for heart failure later in life.

What's more, the reduction in risk is independent of other modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the researchers said.

"It's never too late to get fit," said lead researcher Dr. Ambarish Pandey, an internal medicine resident at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

"Fitness is a significant risk factor for heart failure," Pandey said. "But if someone who is not fit in middle age improves his fitness over the years and gets in better shape, the risk of heart failure decreases."

The results of the study are scheduled for presentation May 15 at an American Heart Association scientific meeting in Baltimore.

Heart failure -- when the heart can't pump enough blood to the rest of the body -- is increasing as more people survive heart attacks and live longer with heart disease. More than 5 million Americans have the condition, and that number could increase 25 percent by 2030, according to the American Heart Association.

Heart failure is the most common reason older adults are hospitalized and rehospitalized, said American Heart Association spokesman Dr. Gregg Fonarow.

"One in five adults will develop heart failure in their lifetime, and 670,000 men and women in the United States will develop heart failure this year," said Fonarow, director of the Cardiomyopathy Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

About half of people who develop heart failure die within five years of diagnosis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Yet in many cases, heart failure is preventable by maintaining cardiovascular health and control of heart failure risk factors," Fonarow said. "These new findings suggest that improving cardiovascular fitness levels may be an effective way of lowering heart failure."

For the study, Pandey's team assessed fitness levels of more than 9,000 middle-aged men and women with an average age of 48 who were tested twice, eight years apart.

After 18 years of follow-up, the researchers matched the results with Medicare claims for heart failure hospitalizations.

They found that people who weren't physically fit at the start of the study had a higher risk of heart failure after age 65. But those whose fitness improved on the tests had a lower risk of heart failure later on than those whose fitness remained poor.

Using a treadmill test to measure what are called "metabolic equivalents," the researchers found the risk for heart failure dropped 20 percent for each improvement in metabolic equivalents.

If a 40-year-old improved from jogging a 12-minute mile to a 10-minute mile, an increase of two metabolic equivalents, the risk for heart failure would have dropped 40 percent, Pandey said.

Data and conclusions presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

For more information on heart failure, visit the American Heart Association.

SOURCES: Ambarish Pandey, M.D., internal medicine resident, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., spokesman, American Heart Association, and professor, cardiovascular medicine and science, and director, Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; May 15, 2013, presentation, American Heart Association Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2013, Baltimore

 
Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.