BACKGROUND: Greater physical activity (PA) is associated with lower heart failure (HF) risk. However, it is unclear whether this inverse association exists across all subgroups at high risk for HF, particularly among those with preexisting atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. METHODS AND RESULTS: We followed 13 810 ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) study participants (mean age 55 years, 54% women, 26% black) without HF at baseline (visit 1; 1987–1989). PA was assessed using a modified Baecke questionnaire and categorized according to American Heart Association guidelines: recommended, intermediate, or poor. We constructed Cox models to estimate associations between PA categories and incident HF within each high-risk subgroup at baseline, with tests for interaction. We performed additional analyses modeling incident coronary heart disease as a time-varying covariate. Over a median of 26 years of follow-up, there were 2994 HF events. Compared with poor PA, recommended PA was associated with lower HF risk among participants with hypertension, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and metabolic syndrome (all P<0.01), but not among those with prevalent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, stroke, or peripheral arterial disease) (hazard ratio, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.74–1.13 [P interaction=0.02]). Recommended PA was associated with lower risk of incident coronary heart disease (hazard ratio, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.72–0.86), but not with lower HF risk in those with interim coronary heart disease events (hazard ratio, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.78–1.04 [P interaction=0.04]). CONCLUSIONS: PA was associated with decreased HF risk in patients with hypertension, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and metabolic syndrome. Despite a myriad of benefits in patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, PA may have weaker associations with HF prevention after ischemic disease is established.
- Heart failure
- Primary prevention
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine