PASADENA, Calif. — Men who reported being sedentary, with low levels of physical activity, were at a significantly higher risk for heart failure than those who were more active, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published today in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure. The study shows the increased risk of heart failure with prolonged sedentary behavior.
Researchers examined the electronic health records of more than 82,000 men aged 45 years and older who were part of the California Men’s Health Study. The study participants did not have prevalent heart failure and were enrolled in Kaiser Permanente health plans in the Northern and Southern California regions. The researchers followed these men for more than 10 years and found that those who reported high levels of sedentary time and low levels of physical activity had 2.2 times the risk of developing heart failure as compared with men who reported high physical activity and low sedentary time.
“Though traditionally we know quite a bit about the positive impact that physical activity has on cardiovascular disease, we know significantly less about the relationship between physical activity and heart failure,” said Deborah Rohm Young, PhD, study lead author and researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation. “The results of this large study of a racially and ethnically diverse population reinforce the importance of a physically active and, importantly, a non-sedentary lifestyle for reducing the risk of heart failure.”
Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to maintain a proper blood flow. It is a serious and major cardiovascular disease that affected about 5.7 million Americans in 2012, according to the American Heart Association. Though the condition does not necessarily mean that the heart has stopped beating, about half of the people who develop heart failure will die within five years of diagnosis. Primary risk factors for the condition include coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and a lack of physical activity.
“Kaiser Permanente considers physical activity an important part of a comprehensive approach to patient wellness and has included exercise as one of the patient’s vital signs for several years now,” said Young. “Hopefully, this study will provide even more evidence that moving more and sitting less can be prescribed for better health.”
Kaiser Permanente is one of the first health care organizations to implement Exercise as a Vital Sign in a patient’s electronic health record. The measure was launched in Kaiser Permanente Southern California in 2009 and has since been applied across the organization. As part of these efforts, patients are asked during routine outpatient visits how many minutes per week they exercise. Patients’ responses are included in their electronic medical record, along with other traditional vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse and temperature.
An October 2012 study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that among nearly 1.8 million Kaiser Permanente Southern California patients, 86 percent had an exercise vital sign in their record and that one third of the patients met national guidelines for physical activity. And last month, a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that asking patients about their exercise habits was associated with weight loss in overweight patients and improved glucose control for patients with diabetes.
The cohort was established with funds from the California Cancer Research Program, grant 99-86883 and the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Program. The analyses were supported by the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Community Benefit Program.
Other authors on the study include Kristi Reynolds, PhD, Margo Sidell, ScD, Nirupa R. Ghai, PhD, Steven J. Jacobsen, MD, PhD, Jeffrey M. Slezak, MS, and Virginia P. Quinn, PhD, of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation; Somjot Brar, MD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, Department of Cardiology; and Barbara Sternfeld, PhD, and Bette Caan, PhD, of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Northern California.
About the Kaiser Permanente Department of Research & Evaluation
The Department of Research & Evaluation conducts high-quality, innovative research into disease etiology, prevention, treatment and care delivery. Investigators conduct epidemiology, health sciences and behavioral research as well as clinical trials. Areas of interest include diabetes and obesity, cancer, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, aging and cognition, pregnancy outcomes, women’s and children’s health, quality and safety, and pharmacoepidemiology. Located in Pasadena, Calif., the department focuses on translating research to practice quickly to benefit the health and lives of Kaiser Permanente Southern California members and the general population. Visit kp.org/research.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 9.1 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to kp.org/share.