SAN DIEGO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Men and women who are able to prevent or delay onset of hypertension, obesity, and diabetes beyond age 45 years can expect to reap a major benefit: living for 11-15 years longer without heart failure, according to a novel study featuring more than 500,000 person-years of follow-up.

“We’re interested in thinking about risk in a different way. Traditionally, risk has been thought of in terms of how different risk factors lead to increased chances for heart failure. Instead, we’re interested in thinking about how preventing the development of risk factors leads to increased longevity and extension of heart failure–free survival. It’s a much more powerful message when you’re talking to patients in their 30s or 40s to say that they’ll be able to live 11-15 years longer without heart failure if they can avoid developing these three risk factors,” Dr. Faraz S. Ahmad explained at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

He presented an analysis of pooled data from four large studies with adjudicated heart failure outcomes. The analysis, conducted as part of the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project , included a total of 19,429 subjects with a median 21.3 years of follow-up, during which 1,677 participants were diagnosed with incident heart failure.

This analysis quantified the association between prevalent hypertension, diabetes, and/or obesity with heart failure–free and overall survival, beginning at age 45 years and with 50 years of subsequent follow-up, noted Dr. Ahmad, a cardiology fellow at Northwestern University, Chicago.

Among men with none of the three key risk factors at age 45 years, the multivariate-adjusted risk of subsequently developing heart failure was reduced by 73%, compared with that of men with all three risk factors present. Women with none of the three risk factors enjoyed an 85% relative risk reduction.

Among men who developed heart failure, those with diabetes by age 45 years were diagnosed with heart failure 8.6 years earlier than were those without diabetes at age 45 years. Among women with diabetes at age 45 years, heart failure was diagnosed when they were 10.6 years younger than in those without diabetes were.

These data take on added weight in light of projections regarding the future of heart failure in the United States. At present, there are an estimated 825,000 new cases of heart failure per year. The disease prevalence is 5.1 million. The annual cost is $31 billion and is expected to climb by 126% over the next 20 years, Dr. Ahmad said.

The four studies upon which this lifetime risk analysis was based were the Framingham Heart Study , the Framingham Offspring Study , the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study , and the Chicago Heart Association Detection Project in Industry . Together they included 509,650 person-years of follow-up. All four studies were funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, as was this analysis. Dr. Ahmad reported having no financial conflicts.


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