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U.S. heart health needs a boost, finds analysis

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
America's heart health is poor, finds new analysis.

Analysis finds heart health in America is lagging.

Data in the American Heart Association's "Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update 2012," Shows heart health among America’s adults and children needs a boost.

According to the statistics, half of children age 12 to 19 meet just four out of seven criteria for optimal heart health.

Thirty-eight percent of adults have at least three out of 7 factors that contribute to less than optimal heart health, and 94% had at least one factor that could lead to heart disease.

Contributing factors to heart disease include lack of activity and exercise, obesity that causes higher than normal blood sugars and insulin resistance, high cholesterol levels and hypertension.

According to the American Heart Association, seven health factors determine a person’s cardiovascular disease (CVD) health status: smoking, weight, activity level, diet, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and fasting glucose levels.

The study, led by Véronique L. Roger, M.D, M.P.H., professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, means Americans are going to spend more on drugs and procedures to treat heart disease.

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The good news is fewer people are dying from heart attack and congestive heart failure, thanks to new treatments.

From 1998 to 2008, mortality from all diseases of the blood vessels, including stroke, dropped 30.6 percent. Stroke became the 4th instead of the 3rd leading cause of death during the time frame, falling 34.8 percent.

According to the report, one person dies from heart disease every 39 seconds, or more than 2200 Americans every day.

Reasons cited for America’s poor heart health report include higher consumption of calories and lack of exercise.

Calorie consumption from fast foods, sugar-sweetened drinks, commercially prepared meals, snacks and carbohydrates increased 22% in women and 10% in men between 1971 and 2004.

In 2009, 29.9 percent of girls and 17 percent adolescents in grades nine through 12 had not participated in any aerobic activity in the previous 7 days and 33 percent of adults don’t perform any aerobic leisure-time physical activity.

Rogers says the analysis showing poor heart health in a large percentage of U.S. children and adults is important from public health perspective. The cost of cardiovascular disease and stroke in the United State was an estimated $297.7 billion in 2008.

Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., an author of the statistical update and chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago says children and adults need to learn how to improve their health behaviors. Even for people in poor health small changes can make a difference.



I completely agree that people need to make changes, even small ones, that can make a difference in heart and overall health. Unfortunately, even though people know this, the majority still won't do anything about it--they are under the impression that the "bad stuff" will happen to the other guy. I may be cynical, but I think too many people, including parents who refuse to help their children adopt a healthier lifestyle by showing by example, are not going to change.
I know what you mean. Money is often cited as a reason people can't eat healthier - - bad health is a reason not to exercise - neither are valid.
Whether you believe that being overweight, even obese, is a disease or a choice, the reality is that most people need assistance to change their lifestyles. If insurance companies would follow Medicare's lead and cover intensive behavioral therapy for weight lose, the rising tide of chronic disease in the U.S. may actualy abate.