Impact of Incident Heart Failure on Body Composition Over Time in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study Population

Circ Heart Fail. 2017 Sep;10(9):e003915. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.117.003915.


Background: Prevalence of heart failure (HF) increases significantly with age, coinciding with age-related changes in body composition that are common and consequential. Still, body composition is rarely factored in routine HF care.

Methods and results: The Health, Aging, and Body Composition study is a prospective cohort study of nondisabled adults. Using yearly dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, body composition was assessed in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study over 6 years, comparing those who developed incident HF versus those who did not. Among 2815 Health, Aging, and Body Composition participants (48.5% men; 59.6% whites; mean age, 73.6±2.9 years), 111 developed incident HF over the 6-year study period. At entry into the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study, men and women who later developed HF had higher total body mass when compared with those versus those who did not develop HF (men, 80.9±10 versus 78.6±12.9 kg, P=0.05; women, 72.7±15.0 versus 68.2±14.2 kg, P=0.01, respectively). However, after developing HF, loss of total lean body mass was disproportionate; men with HF lost 654.6 versus 391.4 g/y in non-HF participants, P=0.02. Loss of appendicular lean mass was also greater with HF (-419.9 versus -318.2 g/y; P=0.02), even after accounting for total weight change. Among women with HF, loss of total and appendicular lean mass were also greater than in non-HF participants but not to the extent seen among men.

Conclusions: Incident HF in older adults was associated with disproportionate loss of lean mass, particularly among men. Prognostic implications are significant, with key sex-specific inferences on physical function, frailty, disability, and pharmacodynamics that all merit further investigation.

Keywords: aging; atrophy; body composition; prognosis; sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adiposity
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Body Composition*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Weight Loss