Only 1 in 5 Americans Have Optimal Heart Health: Here’s Why

  • A new study from the American Heart Association (AHA) reveals that only 20% of Americans have optimal heart health.
  • They also say measures to improve heart health can reduce your risk of poor health outcomes.
  • These include heart disease, cancer and dementia.

New to research from the American Heart Association (AHA), finds that only 20% of Americans have “optimal” heart health.

“I think what’s interesting and important about this study is that it gives us a much more detailed look at the components of cardiovascular health in the U.S. population, and how these differ among demographic groups across age, between men and women, across racial/ethnic groups.”, Study Leader and President of the AHA, Donald M. Lloyd Jonestold Healthline.

For this study, the researchers analyzed data from National health and nutrition surveys (NHANES) from 2013 to 2018.

They included nonpregnant, noninstitutionalized people aged 2 to 79 who did not have cardiovascular disease.

All participants had an overall cardiovascular health (CVH) score calculated for them ranging from 0 to 100, and a score for diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep duration, index body mass (BMI), blood lipids, blood sugar and blood. pressure, using AHA definitions.

According to updated measures, among more than 23,400 American adults and children without cardiovascular disease (CVD), the overall cardiovascular health of the American population is less than ideal.

Research has shown that around 80% of people scored low or moderate.

According to the AHA, they built on “substantial new evidence” gathered over the past 12 years, to add new definitions and measures to quantify cardiovascular health (CVH).

They also broadened the spectrum of HCVs to start as young as two years old and address social determinants of health (SDOH), psychological health and well-being as crucial factors in improving health.

The AHA metric for considering CVH is now called The essentials of life 8.

They understand:

  • diet
  • physical activity
  • nicotine exposure
  • sleep health
  • weight
  • blood lipids
  • blood sugar
  • arterial pressure

Sleep is the newest addition.

“So we looked at including sleep in 2010,” Lloyd-Jones said. “We also considered items on stress that could be included, but at the time none of these were really being measured very well, especially in population studies.”

Lloyd-Jones pointed out that sleep is linked to total mortality, and there is independent information that sleep gives us “beyond” the original seven measures.

Mitchell Weinberg, MD, chair of cardiology at Staten Island University Hospital, part of Northwell Health in New York, said the tool is both valuable and user-friendly for determining CVH.

” Own a number that crystallizes a person’s current state of health allows that person to understand the need for change and target a single numerical goal,” he said.

Weinberg said Life’s Essential 8 motivates every patient to improve and maintain cardiovascular health.

Weinberg also thinks that this tool is very useful for those who focus their efforts on a “larger scale”.

“Cardiovascular health in the United States clearly needs drastic improvement, and we need to think beyond the individual patient if we are to make adequate changes,” he said.

“Health systems, governments, payers and policy makers can use such a validated tool to identify populations in need and track the effects of public health interventions,” he continued.

Lloyd-Jones believes Life’s Essential 8 will continue to provide people with the ability to understand their current state of health and what they can work on to maintain or improve it.

“Of those eight metrics, there will be something in the yellow or red zone rather than the green zone,” he said. “The good news is that no matter which one you choose, if you work on one of these eight things and try to improve it, it will improve your health.”

Lloyd-Jones pointed out that it will reduce your risk of poor health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia.

“I hope it’s a very empowering message,” he said. “Let’s improve our health, and by choosing the things you’re motivated to change, you can have a real impact on your long-term health outcomes.”

To achieve and maintain optimal heart health, Weinberg’s recommendations include:

  • No smoking or vaping
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • get enough sleep
  • Maintain blood pressure within a healthy range (below 120/80 mmHg)

“Perform moderate exercise for more than 150 minutes per week or vigorous exercise for 75 minutes per week,” he added, noting that children have even higher exercise goals.

A new study from the American Heart Association (AHA) reveals that only 20% of Americans have optimal heart health.

Experts say AHA’s Life’s Essential 8 is a useful tool for knowing what aspect of health you need to work on the most.

They also say it could reduce your risk of poor health outcomes, including heart disease, cancer and dementia.

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