Cardiovascular Health in Youth Limits Functional Disability Later in Life Interview with:
Thanh Huyen T Vu MD, PhD

Research Assistant Professor
Preventive Medicine-Epidemiology
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response: Ideal levels of all major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors (RF), i.e., low risk (LR), in younger age are associated with lower subsequent CVD morbidity and mortality in older age. However, data are limited on the long-term relationships of LR profile in younger age with functional disability in older age.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Response: With average follow-up 32 years, 11% of the cohort reported having IADL disabilities and 7% ADL disabilities. Age adjusted prevalence of IADL and ADL were lowest among the low risk group and increased with number of RFs (p-trends <0.001).
With multivariate-adjustment, low risk was associated with the lowest likelihood of having any ADL or IADL disabilities; e.g. compared to those with ≥2 RFs, the odds of having any ADL disabilities vs. no disability in persons with baseline low risk , 0 RF, and 1RF were lower by 60%, 50%, and 40%, respectively.

Medical Research: What is the take home message?

Response: For clinicians: our results highlight the importance of having favorable levels of CVD risk factors at younger ages in preventing functional limitations later in life.
Since healthy lifestyle has been shown to be associated with favorable levels of CVD risk factors, it is important that health care providers promote a healthy lifestyle for their patients early in life so they can achieve an ideal CVD RF profile, thus reducing the risk of functional disability later in life.

For patients: People should adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle at all ages. They should try to stay healthy and avoid the development of CVD risk factors.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: This study provides more evidence on the benefit of having favorable levels of CVD risk factors and support the Strategic Impact Goal Through 2020 developed by the AHA which aims to improve the cardiovascular health for all Americans by 20%. Future research on how to improve CVD health are needed.


2014 AHA meeting abstract:
Ideal Cardiovascular Health in Younger Age and Functional Disability in Older Age – The Chicago Heart Association Detection Project in Industry (CHA) 32 Year Follow-up Health Survey

Last Updated on November 19, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD