Six-Year Changes in Physical Activity and the Risk of Incident Heart Failure: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study
Background—Higher physical activity (PA) is associated with lower heart failure (HF) risk. However, the impact of changes in PA on HF risk is unknown.
Methods—We evaluated 11,351 ARIC participants (mean age 60 years) who attended Visit 3 (1993-95) and did not have a history of cardiovascular disease. Exercise PA was assessed using a modified Baecke questionnaire and categorized according to American Heart Association guidelines as recommended, intermediate, or poor. We used Cox regression models to characterize the association of 6-year changes in PA between the first (1987-1989) and third ARIC visits and HF risk.
Results—During a median of 19 years of follow-up, there were 1,750 HF events. Compared to those with poor activity at both visits, the lowest HF risk was seen for those with persistently recommended activity (HR 0.69; 95% CI: 0.60, 0.80). However, those whose PA increased from poor to recommended also had reduced HF risk (HR 0.77; 95% CI: 0.63, 0.93). Among participants with poor baseline activity, each 1-SD higher PA at 6 years (512.5 METS*minutes/week; corresponding to approximately 30 minutes of brisk walking 4 times per week) was associated with significantly lower future HF risk (HR: 0.89, 95% CI: 0.82, 0.96).
Conclusions—While maintaining recommended activity levels is associated with the lowest HF risk, initiating and increasing PA, even in late middle age, are also linked to lower HF risk. Augmenting PA may be an important component of strategies to prevent HF.
- Received June 29, 2017.
- Revision received November 27, 2017.
- Accepted December 20, 2017.