Prognostic relevance of gradual weight changes on long-term mortality in chronic heart failure

Published:November 06, 2022DOI:
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      • In patients with chronic stable HFrEF, there is evidence of an obesity paradox.
      • The prognostic impact of weight change was analysed using fractional polynomials.
      • Long-term prognosis is best in patients with higher BMI and a gradual weight gain of 5%.
      • Mortality steadily increases with increasing weight loss.
      • Any weight loss my be suspicious for cardiac cachexia.


      Background and Aims

      While obesity has been linked to better ouctomes (the obesity paradox), cachexia is associated with higher mortality in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). As opposed to overt cachexia, little is known about the prognostic impact of gradual, long-term weight changes in stable HFrEF.

      Methods and Results

      We included ambulatory patients with clinically stable chronic HFrEF on individually optimized treatment. Next to other clinical and functional parameters, changes in body weight over the past one (n=733, group 1) or two (n=636, group 2) years were recorded. Four-year mortality was analysed with respect to baseline BMI and changes in body weight or BMI using fractional polynomials. In addition, outcome was stratified by BMI categories (18.5-25 kg/m2: normal weight, >25-30 kg/m2: overweight, >30 kg/m2: obesity).
      An obesity paradox was present in both groups, with overweight and obese patients having the best prognosis. In both groups, a gradual weight gain of 5% was associated with the lowest mortality, whereas mortality steadily increases with increasing weight loss. Excessive weight gain >10% was also related to higher mortality. Stratification by baseline BMI categories revealed that weight loss was most detrimental in normal weight patients, whereas the prognostic impact of weight change was weaker in obese patients.


      In patients with chronic HFrEF, gradual weight loss is associated with steadily increasing mortality, whereas a weight gain of 5% is related to the best prognosis. Prevention of any inappropriate weight loss might be a therapeutic goal in HFrEF patient care.


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