Objective: To explore the covariate-adjusted associations between body composition (percent body fat and lean body mass) and prognostic factors for mortality in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) (nutritional status, N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide [NT-proBNP], quality of life, exercise capacity, and C-reactive protein).
Patients and methods: Between June 2008 and July 2009, we directly measured body composition using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry in 140 patients with systolic and/or diastolic heart failure. We compared body composition and CHF prognostic factors across body fat reference ranges and body mass index (BMI) categories. Multiple linear regression models were created to examine the independent associations between body composition and CHF prognostic factors; we contrasted these with models that used BMI.
Results: Use of BMI misclassified body fat status in 51 patients (41%). Body mass index was correlated with both lean body mass (r=0.72) and percent body fat (r=0.67). Lean body mass significantly increased with increasing BMI but not with percent body fat. Body mass index was significantly associated with lower NT-proBNP and lower exercise capacity. In contrast, higher percent body fat was associated with a higher serum prealbumin level, lower exercise capacity, and increased C-reactive protein level; lean body mass was inversely associated with NT-proBNP and positively associated with hand-grip strength.
Conclusion: When BMI is divided into fat and lean mass components, a higher lean body mass and/or lower fat mass is independently associated with factors that are prognostically advantageous in CHF. Body mass index may not be a good indicator of adiposity and may in fact be a better surrogate for lean body mass in this population.