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Get Fit in Middle Age to Cut Heart Failure Risk, Study Says
Date:5/15/2013

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- People who are obese or out of shape in their 40s or 50s might think it's too late to start getting fit, but new research finds that shaping up in middle age lowers the odds for heart failure later in life.

What's more, the reduction in risk is independent of other modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the researchers said.

"It's never too late to get fit," said lead researcher Dr. Ambarish Pandey, an internal medicine resident at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

"Fitness is a significant risk factor for heart failure," Pandey said. "But if someone who is not fit in middle age improves his fitness over the years and gets in better shape, the risk of heart failure decreases."

The results of the study are scheduled for presentation May 15 at an American Heart Association scientific meeting in Baltimore.

Heart failure -- when the heart can't pump enough blood to the rest of the body -- is increasing as more people survive heart attacks and live longer with heart disease. More than 5 million Americans have the condition, and that number could increase 25 percent by 2030, according to the American Heart Association.

Heart failure is the most common reason older adults are hospitalized and rehospitalized, said American Heart Association spokesman Dr. Gregg Fonarow.

"One in five adults will develop heart failure in their lifetime, and 670,000 men and women in the United States will develop heart failure this year," said Fonarow, director of the Cardiomyopathy Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

About half of people who develop heart failure die within five years of diagnosis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Yet in many cases, heart failure is p
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