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Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death in Men and Women in the United States

A Prospective Evaluation From the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study



      To examine the relation between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and sudden cardiac death (SCD) in a large US adult population and to study the effects of hypertension, obesity, and health status on the relation of CRF with SCD.

      Patients and Methods

      A total of 55,456 individuals (mean age, 44.2 years; 13,507 women) from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, a prospective observational investigation (from January 2, 1974, through December 31, 2002), were included. Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed by a maximal treadmill test, and baseline assessment included an extensive set of measurements.


      There were 109 SCDs. An inverse risk of SCD was found across incremental CRF levels after adjusting for potential confounders. Participants with moderate and high CRF levels had 44% (hazard ratio, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.35-0.90) and 48% (hazard ratio, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.30-0.92) significantly lower risk of SCD, respectively, than did those with low CRF levels (P<.001). The risk of SCD decreased by 14% (hazard ratio, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.77-0.96) per 1-metabolic equivalent increase in the fully adjusted model. Hypertensive, overweight, or unhealthy individuals with moderate to high CRF levels had lower risks of SCD (ranging from 58% to 72% of lower risk) than did those with the same medical conditions and low CRF levels.


      The risk of SCD in US men and women could be partially reduced by ensuring moderate to high levels of CRF independently of other risk factors and especially in those who are hypertensive, overweight, or unhealthy.

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      BMI (body mass index), BP (blood pressure), CHD (coronary heart disease), CRF (cardiorespiratory fitness), CV (cardiovascular), CVD (cardiovascular disease), HR (hazard ratio), HTN (hypertension), MET (metabolic equivalent), SCD (sudden cardiac death)
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