Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is a key predictor of chronic disease, particularly cardiovascular disease (CVD), but its assessment usually requires exercise testing which is impractical and costly in most health-care settings. Non-exercise testing cardiorespiratory fitness (NET-F)-estimating methods are a less resource-demanding alternative, but their predictive capacity for CVD and total mortality has yet to be tested. The objective of this study is to examine the association of a validated NET-F algorithm with all-cause and CVD mortality.Methods and results
The participants were 32 319 adults (14 650 men) aged 35–70 years who took part in eight Health Survey for England and Scottish Health Survey studies between 1994 and 2003. Non-exercise testing cardiorespiratory fitness (a metabolic equivalent of VO2max) was calculated using age, sex, body mass index (BMI), resting heart rate, and self-reported physical activity. We followed participants for mortality until 2008. Two thousand one hundred and sixty-five participants died (460 cardiovascular deaths) during a mean 9.0 [standard deviation (SD) = 3.6] year follow-up. After adjusting for potential confounders including diabetes, hypertension, smoking, social class, alcohol, and depression, a higher fitness score according to the NET-F was associated with a lower risk of mortality from all-causes (hazard ratio per SD increase in NET-F 0.85, 95% confidence interval: 0.78–0.93 in men; 0.88, 0.80–0.98 in women) and CVD (men: 0.75, 0.63–0.90; women: 0.73, 0.60–0.92). Non-exercise testing cardiorespiratory fitness had a better discriminative ability than any of its components (CVD mortality c-statistic: NET-F = 0.70–0.74; BMI = 0.45–0.59; physical activity = 0.60–0.64; resting heart rate = 0.57–0.61). The sensitivity of the NET-F algorithm to predict events occurring in the highest risk quintile was better for CVD (0.49 in both sexes) than all-cause mortality (0.44 and 0.40 for men and women, respectively). The specificity for all-cause and CVD mortality ranged between 0.80 and 0.82. The net reclassification improvement of CVD mortality risk (vs. a standardized aggregate score of the modifiable components of NET-F) was 27.2 and 21.0% for men and women, respectively.Conclusion
The CRF-estimating method NET-F that does not involve exercise testing showed consistent associations with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, and it had good discrimination and excellent risk reclassification improvement. As such, it merits further attention as a practical and potentially and useful risk prediction tool.