About 1 in 5 Americans have optimal heart health, according to a new study using an updated checklist from the American Heart Association.
Researchers used the Life Essential 8 metrics, which include diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep duration, body mass index, blood lipids, blood glucose, and blood pressure to determine an adult’s overall cardiovascular health.
“The new metric of sleep duration reflects the latest research findings: sleep impacts overall health, and people who have healthier sleep patterns manage health factors such as weight, blood pressure or risk for Type 2 diabetes more effectively,” AHA president Donald M. Lloyd Jones said in a statement.
An adult’s cardiovascular score — ranging from 1 to 100 — is calculated by adding together totals for the eight metrics and then dividing by eight. Scores below 50 indicate poor heart health, while scores between 50 and 79 mean a person is considered in moderate cardiovascular health. The remainder is classified as being in optimal health.
One study used data from the disease from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys in 2013-2018 to measure the heart health of more than 23,400 U.S. adults and children free of cardiovascular disease. It found that 80 percent of U.S. adults fell into the poor or moderate categories.
The average health score for both adults and children was below 66. Close to 20 percent of U.S. adults had high cardiovascular health; 62.5 percent were classified as moderate. Adults scored lowest in the areas of diet, physical activity, and BMI, and overall scores were lower as people age, the study found.
“Overall, the cardiovascular health of the U.S. population is suboptimal, and we see important differences across age and sociodemographic groups,” said Lloyd-Jones, who led the study.
“Analyses like this can help policymakers, communities, clinicians, and the public to understand the opportunities to intervene to improve and maintain optimal cardiovascular health across the life course,” he concluded.