Background: The American Heart Association Cardiovascular Health score (CVH score) is inversely associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence, but the mechanisms underlying this association warrant exploration.
Methods and results: We related the CVH score to circulating biomarkers and prevalent subclinical CVD (defined as ≥1 of the following: increased carotid intima-media thickness or stenosis, left ventricular hypertrophy [by ECG or echocardiography], left ventricular systolic dysfunction, microalbuminuria, and a reduced ankle-brachial index) in 2680 Framingham Study participants (mean age, 58 years; 55% women). After adjustment for age and sex, an ideal CVH score (nonsmoking status, ideal body mass index, regular physical activity, healthy diet, and an optimal profile of serum cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose; 1 point for each) was associated with higher circulating concentrations of natriuretic peptides (N-terminal pro-atrial natriuretic peptide and B-type natriuretic peptide) and lower blood concentrations of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, aldosterone, C-reactive protein, D-dimer, fibrinogen, homocysteine, and growth differentiation factor-15 levels (P<0.001 for all), as well as lower odds of subclinical disease (odds ratio, 0.74 per 1-unit increase in CVH score; 95% confidence interval, 0.68-0.80). The incidence of CVD (267 events over 16 years) was inversely associated with the CVH score in age- and sex-adjusted models (hazard ratio, 0.77 per 1-unit increase in CVH score; 95% confidence interval, 0.70-0.86), which was slightly attenuated upon adjustment for biomarkers and subclinical disease (hazard ratio, 0.87; 95% confidence interval, 0.78-0.97).
Conclusion: In our prospective community-based study, the inverse association between an ideal cardiovascular health score and CVD incidence was partly attributable to its favorable impact on CVD biomarker levels and subclinical disease.
Keywords: American Heart Association; biological markers; cardiovascular diseases; risk.
© 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.