Relation of Exercise Capacity to Incident Heart Failure Among Men and Women With Coronary Heart Disease (from the Henry Ford Exercise Testing [FIT] Project)

      Exercise capacity (EC) is inversely related to the risk of cardiovascular disease and incident heart failure (HF) in healthy subjects. However, there are no present studies that exclusively evaluate EC and the risk of incident HF in patients with known coronary heart disease (CHD). We aimed to determine the relation between EC and incident HF in patients with an established clinical diagnosis of CHD. We retrospectively identified 8,387 patients (age 61 ± 12 years; 30% women; 33% non-White) with a history of myocardial infarction (MI) or coronary revascularization procedure and no history of HF at the time of a clinically indicated exercise stress test completed between 1991 and 2009. EC was quantified in metabolic equivalents of task (METs) estimated from treadmill testing. Incident HF was identified through June 2010 from administrative databases based on ≥3 encounters with International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision 428.x. Cox regression analysis was used to evaluate the risk of incident HF associated with METs. Covariates included age; gender; race; hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, smoking, and MI; medications for CHD and lung diseases; and clinical indication for treadmill testing. During a median follow-up of 8.2 years (interquartile range 4.7 to 12.4 years) after the exercise test, 23% of the cohort experienced a new HF diagnosis. Lower EC categories were associated with higher HF incidence compared with METs ≥12, with nearly fourfold greater adjusted risk among patients with METs <6. Per unit increase in METs of EC was associated with a 12% lower adjusted risk for HF. There was no significant interaction based on race (p = 0.06), gender (p = 0.88), age ≤61 years (p = 0.60), history of MI (p = 0.31), or diabetes (p = 0.38). This study reveals that among men and women with CHD and no history of HF, EC is independently and inversely related to the risk of future HF.
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