Increased step count linked to better health for people with heart failure

Aug. 1, 2023
The results may inform interpretation of wearable device data in clinical and research settings, investigators say.

More often, people are turning to consumer wearable devices, such as smartwatches, to monitor their health and physical activity.

Using these wearable devices, a study led by Michigan Medicine and the University of Missouri with Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute finds that taking more daily steps is associated improved health, including fewer symptoms and physical limitations, for people with heart failure. The results are published in JACC: Heart Failure.

As part of a national, randomized clinical trial for heart failure, over 400 patients were given activity monitors to evaluate the relationship between daily step count, floors climbed, and their symptoms and physical limitations over 12 weeks. The CHIEF-HF trial used the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaires (KCCQ) to gauge total symptoms and physical limitations.

Baseline step counts between 1,000 and 5,000 steps were associated with significantly improved symptoms and fewer physical limitations reflected by KCCQ scores, with little association seen beyond 5,000 steps.

People who walked 2,000 steps per day had total symptoms scores 3.11 points higher, and physical limitation scores 5.36 points higher, than those who walked 1,000 steps a day.

Participants who increased their step counts by 2,000 steps per-day during the 12 weeks experienced a clinically important greater than 5-point increase in physical limitation scores compared to those who did not change their step counts. While increases in step counts over time showed better symptom control and physical function, declines showed no relationship with these outcomes.

Michigan Medicine release