Exercise Capacity and the Obesity Paradox in Heart Failure: The FIT (Henry Ford Exercise Testing) Project

Paul A. McAuley, Steven J. Keteyian, Clinton A. Brawner, Zeina A. Dardari, Mahmoud Al Rifai, Jonathan K. Ehrman, Mouaz H. Al-Mallah, Seamus P. Whelton, Michael J. Blaha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Objectives: To assess the influence of exercise capacity and body mass index (BMI) on 10-year mortality in patients with heart failure (HF) and to synthesize these results with those of previous studies. Patients and Methods: This large biracial sample included 774 men and women (mean age, 60±13 years; 372 [48%] black) with a baseline diagnosis of HF from the Henry Ford Exercise Testing (FIT) Project. All patients completed a symptom-limited maximal treadmill stress test from January 1, 1991, through May 31, 2009. Patients were grouped by World Health Organization BMI categories for Kaplan-Meier survival analyses and stratified by exercise capacity (<4 and ≥4 metabolic equivalents [METs] of task). Associations of BMI and exercise capacity with all-cause mortality were assessed using multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models. Results: During a mean follow-up of 10.1±4.6 years, 380 patients (49%) died. Kaplan-Meier survival plots revealed a significant positive association between BMI category and survival for exercise capacity less than 4 METs (log-rank, P=.05), but not greater than or equal to 4 METs (P=.76). In the multivariable-adjusted models, exercise capacity (per 1 MET) was inversely associated, but BMI was not associated, with all-cause mortality (hazard ratio, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.85-0.94; P<.001 and hazard ratio, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.97-1.01; P=.16, respectively). Conclusion: Maximal exercise capacity modified the relationship between BMI and long-term survival in patients with HF, upholding the presence of an exercise capacity-obesity paradox dichotomy as observed over the short-term in previous studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-708
Number of pages8
JournalMayo Clinic Proceedings
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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