Avoiding Three Risk Factors by Middle Age Delayed Heart Failure Diagnosis

Americans' Views on Obesity Changing
Americans’ Views on Obesity Changing
Patients with hypertension, obesity or diabetes at age 45 years were diagnosed with heart failure more than a decade earlier than those without these risk factors.

Compared with patients who did not have hypertension, obesity or diabetes at age 45 years, those who had all three risk factors at that age were diagnosed with heart failure an average of 11 to 13 years earlier, according to data presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Sessions 2015.

“The message from this study is that you really want to prevent or delay the onset of these risk factors for as long as possible,” Faraz Ahmad, MD, study lead author from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, said in a press release. “Doing so can significantly increase the number of years you are likely to live free of heart failure.”

For the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project, Dr. Ahmad and colleagues enrolled patients who were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) at baseline. Definitions for the HF risk factors were as follows: hypertension, defined as blood pressure (BP) ≥140/90 mm Hg or treatment; obesity, defined as BMI ≥30 kg/m2; and diabetes, defined as fasting glucose ≥126 mg/dL or treatment.

The analysis included 471,988 patient-years of follow-up, during which 1,449 incident HF events were reported.

Dr. Ahmad and colleagues found that in the cohort of patients without hypertension, obesity or diabetes at age 45, men lived 35.3 years and women lived 37 years without incident HF.

When compared with patients with no risk factors at baseline, those with hypertension, obesity and/or diabetes had shorter HF-free survival by 3 to 11 years. Similarly, patients with none of the three risk factors lived a mean of 11.3 to 12.7 years longer than those with all three risk factors.

 “In the clinic, we often give patients metrics of risk that are relative and abstract,” Dr. Ahmad said. “It’s a much more powerful message, when you’re talking to patients in their 30s or 40s, to say that they will be able to live 11 to 13 years longer without heart failure if they can avoid developing these three risk factors now.”

Dr. Ahmad added that the association between these risk factors and heart failure has been remarkably stable over time. “Although the prevalence of some of these risk factors has changed, the association remains the same,” he said.

Results of the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project are scheduled for presentation at the upcoming American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions.


  1. Ahmad F et al. Abstract 1126M-05. Presented at: American College of Cardiology (ACC) 64th Annual Scientific Session & Expo; March 14-16, 2015; San Diego.