Improved cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with lower incident ischemic stroke risk: Henry Ford FIT project

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J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis


BACKGROUND: Change in cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) modulates vascular disease risk; however, it's unclear if this adds further prognostic information, particularly for ischemic stroke. The objective of this analysis is to describe the association between the change in CRF over time and subsequent incident ischemic stroke.

METHODS: This is a retrospective, longitudinal, observational cohort study of 9,646 patients (age=55±11 years; 41% women; 25% black) who completed 2 clinically indicated exercise tests (> 12 months apart) and were free of any stroke at the time of test 2. CRF was expressed as metabolic-equivalents-of-task (METs). Incident ischemic stroke was identified using ICD codes. The adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) was determined for risk of ischemic stroke associated with change in CRF.

RESULTS: Mean time between tests was 3.7 years (IQR, 2.2, 6.0). During a median of 5.0 years (IQR, 2.7, 7.6 y) of follow-up, there were 873 (9.1%) ischemic stroke events. Each 1 MET increase between tests was associated with a 9% lower ischemic stroke risk (aHR 0.91 [0.88-0.94]; n = 9.646). There was an interaction effect by baseline CRF category, but not for sex or race. A sensitivity analysis which removed those who experienced an incident diagnosis known to be associated with an increased risk of ischemic vascular disease, validated our primary findings (aHR 0.91 [0.88, 0.95]; n= 6,943).

CONCLUSIONS: Improvement in CRF over time is independently and inversely associated with a lower risk of ischemic stroke. Encouragement of regular exercise focused on improving CRF may reduce ischemic stroke risk.

Medical Subject Headings

Humans; Female; Adult; Middle Aged; Aged; Male; Cardiorespiratory Fitness; Retrospective Studies; Risk Factors; Ischemic Stroke; Exercise Test; Physical Fitness

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