Cardiovascular Rounds

The strategy that can reduce your HF patients' mortality risk by 36%

by Megan Tooley, Marissa Schwartz and Ben Wheeler

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) costs are estimated to skyrocket to $748.7 billion by 2035, with heart failure expected to play a significant role in that rise. With increased treatment costs, higher disease prevalence, and regulations tying more payments to episodic cost and quality on the horizon, hospitals and health systems need to become more effective in managing HF patients. 

Read our recent blog for the latest insights on optimizing your cardiac rehab program

Successful programs have used a broad series of tactics that go beyond diet restrictions and medical treatments. Read on to learn more about the impact that physical activity can have in improving your quality outcomes and managing your patients with CVD.

Why weight loss alone is insufficient

For years, cardiologists have maintained that weight loss is a key ingredient to managing HF and CVD patients. Ideally, patients are instructed to maintain a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. However, a recent study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology indicates that the weight-loss only paradigm is ineffective. Instead, the study shows, physical activity is the most effective way to reduce all-cause mortality in patients with CVD.

The study tracked 3,307 participants in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study cohort over the course of 30 years. Researchers surveyed the participants about the frequency, duration, and intensity of their leisure time and physical activity (PA), sorting them into inactive, low PA, and high PA cohorts. They also tracked all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality in these patients. The results indicated that individuals who maintained a high level of physical activity over the course of the study had a 36% lower all-cause mortality rate than those who were inactive over that time. In contrast, they did not find an association between CVD mortality and weight loss. The authors concluded that advising patients to be physically active may be a more impactful strategy than advising them to lose weight.

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