Washington: A team of scientists has quantified healthy years gained by avoiding risk factors, like obesity, hypertension and diabetes, for heart failure.
The study found that people who had obesity, hypertension and diabetes by age 45 were diagnosed with heart failure 11 to 13 years earlier, on average, than people who had none of those risk factors by age 45. People who had only one or two of the risk factors, but not all three, developed heart failure an average of three to 11 years earlier than people with none of the risk factors.
Lead author Faraz Ahmad said that 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 because doing so can significantly increase the number of years you are likely to live free of heart failure.
Northwestern University's Ahmad added that in the clinic, they often give patients metrics of risk that are relative and abstract. It's a much more powerful message, when 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.
Ahmad added that the results could also help policymakers or public health practitioners more accurately predict the future prevalence of heart failure in America's aging population. According to the CDC, heart failure costs the nation an estimated 32 billion dollars annually in health care services, medication and missed days of work.
The researchers plan to further investigate the data to determine whether the use of medications to control risk factors helps to delay the onset of heart failure. They also plan to assess whether there are any differences in the risk factor associations among different racial groups.