Higher cardiorespiratory fitness predicts long-term survival in patients with heart failure and preserved ejection fraction: the Henry Ford Exercise Testing (FIT) Project

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Arch Med Sci


Introduction: Higher cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is associated with improved exercise capacity and quality of life in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), but there are no large studies evaluating the association of HFpEF, CRF, and long-term survival. We therefore aimed to determine the association between CRF and all-cause mortality, in patients with HFpEF.

Material and methods: In the Henry Ford Exercise Testing (FIT) Project, 167 patients had baseline HFpEF, defined as a clinical diagnosis of heart failure with ejection fraction ≥ 50% on echocardiogram. The CRF was estimated from the peak workload (in METs) from a clinician-referred treadmill stress test and categorized as poor (1-4 METs), intermediate (5-6 METs), and moderate-high (≥ 7 METs). Additional analyses assessing the effect of HFpEF and CRF on mortality were also conducted, matching HFpEF patients to non-HFpEF patients using propensity scores.

Results: Mean age was 64 ±13 years, with 55% women, and 46% Black. Over a median follow-up of 9.7 (5.2-18.9) years, there were 103 deaths. In fully adjusted models, moderate-high CRF was associated with 63% lower mortality risk (HR = 0.37, 95% CI: 0.18-0.73) compared to the poor-CRF group. In the propensity-matched cohort, HFpEF was associated with a HR of 2.3 (95% CI: 1.7-3.2) for mortality compared to non-HFpEF patients, which was attenuated to 1.8 (95% CI: 1.3-2.5) after adjusting for CRF.

Conclusions: Moderate-high CRF in patients with HFpEF is associated with improved survival, and differences in CRF partly explain the intrinsic risk of HFpEF. Randomized trials of interventions aimed at improving CRF in HFpEF are needed.


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