Recalled Weight History Can Predict Heart Failure Risk
Asking older adults how much they weighed in the past can help to predict their risk of heart failure, according to recent research.
Ideally, doctors treating older people would have ready access to accurate weight histories from lifelong medical records.
In reality, however, medical records tend not to accompany people as they change their primary care doctors.
Obesity and heart failure
Previous studies have shown that the more years that individuals spend with obesity, the more likely they are to have a higher risk of heart failure.
“That is why,” explains senior study author Dr. Erin D. Michos, who is an associate professor of medicine, “measuring a person’s weight at older ages may not tell the whole story about their risk.”
There is mounting evidence that individuals who have only recently developed obesity are overall in less danger compared with counterparts who have a history of obesity, she adds.
Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, is a severe condition. It develops when heart muscle gradually weakens and stiffens until it cannot pump enough oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the body’s organs and tissues.
Around half of those diagnosed with heart failure do not live more than 5 years following diagnosis.
A practical way to obtain weight history
In the routine assessment of heart disease and heart failure risk, doctors bring together measures of cholesterol, blood pressure, diet, BMI, and family history of cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Michos notes that while it is useful to have the current BMI measure when making such an assessment in older adults, having a weight history would be even more helpful.
So, she and her team set out to investigate if there might a practical way of obtaining a weight history that is good enough to inform routine clinical assessment.
Weight history tied to heart failure risk
During the follow-up, 290 individuals had developed heart failure. Another 828 had experienced heart attacks, strokes, or other conditions due to arterial plaque buildup, or had died because of one of these conditions.
Dr. Michos says that, as they expected, there was a link between the weight measures that came from the follow-up visits and the risk of developing heart failure.
For every 5 kilograms per square meter of extra BMI, the risk of developing heart failure went up by 34 percent. This was after accounting for other possible risk factors, such as smoking, age, exercise, diabetes, and blood pressure.
These risks were in comparison to those who reported having BMIs in the normal range at those two ages.
Doctors should ask about weight history
“Our findings emphasize the importance of lifelong maintenance of a healthy weight, as greater cumulative weight from young adulthood is riskier to heart health.”