The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


CI Researchers Find Strong Link Between Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Risk of Heart Failure Mortality

In the first study of its kind, researchers from the Cooper Institute have shown that baseline levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are strongly predictive of future risk of heart failure (HF) mortality. The study, which was recently published online in Circulation:Heart Failure, followed 44,674 Cooper Clinic men over an average period of 19.8 years. At baseline, all men underwent a comprehensive medical exam that included a maximal treadmill stress test to measure their cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). Men were placed in categories of low, moderate, and high CRF based on their age and treadmill performance. During the follow-up period, 153 men died from HF. Compared with high fit men, moderate and low fit men were 1.63 and 3.97 times more likely to die from HF respectively than high fit men. Additionally, among men with the same number of risk factors for HF, fit men were substantially less likely to die from HF than unfit men.

Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for individuals ages 65 and older, and accounts for nearly 60,000 deaths annually. Previous studies had focused on self-reported physical activity levels and HF mortality. This is the first study that used an objective measurement of cardiorespiratory fitness to study the relationship between CRF and HF mortality.

“All men should be counseled on physical activity by their health care provider, with the goal of achieving at least a moderate level of cardiorespiratory fitness in order to reduce risk of heart failure mortality” said Steve Farrell, Ph.D., FACSM who was the lead author of the study.