Physical Activity as a Vital Sign
In 2016, the American Heart Association released a Scientific Statement in the journal Circulation advocating for the importance of cardiorespiratory fitness as a vital sign in clinical practice.
Mounting evidence has firmly established that low levels of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) are associated with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, all-cause mortality, and mortality rates attributable to various cancers. A growing body of epidemiological and clinical evidence demonstrates not only that CRF is a potentially stronger predictor of mortality than established risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes mellitus, but that the addition of CRF to traditional risk factors significantly improves the reclassification of risk for adverse outcomes. The purpose of this statement is to review current knowledge related to the association between CRF and health outcomes, increase awareness of the added value of CRF to improve risk prediction, and suggest future directions in research. Although the statement is not intended to be a comprehensive review, critical references that address important advances in the field are highlighted. The underlying premise of this statement is that the addition of CRF for risk classification presents health professionals with unique opportunities to improve patient management and to encourage lifestyle-based strategies designed to reduce cardiovascular risk. These opportunities must be realized to optimize the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease and hence meet the American Heart Association’s 2020 goals.
Ross et al. 2016. Circulation; 134