Only 1 in 5 Americans have healthy heart, study finds

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A recent study published in the Circulation journal reveals that approximately 80% of individuals in the United States have low to moderate levels of cardiovascular health, as measured by the American Heart Association’s (AHA) innovative Life’s Essential 8 checklist.

This updated tool not only assesses traditional cardiovascular factors but also incorporates the importance of healthy sleep in maintaining optimal heart and brain health.

Understanding Life’s Essential 8 Metrics

The Life’s Essential 8 metrics form the basis of AHA’s My Life Check tool, offering a comprehensive assessment of cardiovascular health.

These eight essential components include diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep duration, body mass index (BMI), blood lipids, blood glucose, and blood pressure.

This updated algorithm builds upon the proven Life’s Simple 7 but now emphasizes the significance of sleep health.

To calculate an individual’s overall cardiovascular health score, the scores for these eight metrics are summed and divided by 8, resulting in a score ranging from 0 to 100.

Scores below 50 indicate “low” cardiovascular health, 50-79 represent “moderate,” and scores of 80 and above signify “high” cardiovascular health.

Subheading 2: Study Findings: Cardiovascular Health in the U.S. Population

The study, involving over 23,400 U.S. adults and children free of cardiovascular disease, provides valuable insights into the cardiovascular health status of the U.S. population:

Among the participants, 80% of adults scored low to moderate on the Life’s Essential 8 metrics.

The average cardiovascular health score for U.S. adults was 64.7, and for U.S. children, it was 65.5, considering age-based modifications for metrics relevant to children.

A mere 0.45% of adults achieved a perfect score of 100 on Life’s Essential 8.

Only 19.6% of U.S. adults demonstrated high cardiovascular health, while 62.5% fell within the moderate range, and 17.9% had low cardiovascular health.

Women scored higher on average (67) than men (62.5) in cardiovascular health.

Areas such as diet, physical activity, and BMI received the lowest scores among U.S. adults.

Cardiovascular health scores tended to decrease with age.

Non-Hispanic Asian Americans had the highest average cardiovascular health score, followed by Non-Hispanic White individuals, Hispanic individuals (excluding Mexicans), Mexicans, and Non-Hispanic Black individuals.

Children exhibited low diet scores, with an average of 40.6.

Sociodemographic factors significantly influenced cardiovascular health scores for diet, nicotine exposure, blood glucose, and blood pressure.

Implications and Opportunities for Improvement

Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, the president of the American Heart Association and lead author of the study, emphasizes the importance of these findings for public health.

The data provides a first look at the cardiovascular health of the U.S. population using the AHA’s new Life’s Essential 8 scoring algorithm.

It underscores the need for interventions to enhance and maintain optimal cardiovascular health across various age and sociodemographic groups.

These insights can inform policies, community initiatives, clinical practices, and individual actions to address the suboptimal cardiovascular health observed in the United States.

In conclusion, the study highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to cardiovascular health that considers multiple factors, including sleep duration, in order to improve the overall well-being of individuals across the nation.

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The research findings can be found in Circulation.

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