Only 7% of Americans are in optimal heart health, a new study finds, with increases in obesity and diabetes determined to be at most fault (file photo)

Less than 7% of Americans have good heart health

Less than 7% of Americans have good heart health – with minorities and less educated people suffering the most, study finds

  • Only 7% of Americans have optimal heart health, with figures declining in recent years, a new study finds
  • Researchers blame a majority of the downturn in heart health on the rising prevalence of obesity and diabetes
  • Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans every year, even maintaining the title through the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • People who are less educated and those that are ethnic minorities were found to be at the most risk of poor heart health 

A staggering low number of Americans have good heart health, a new study finds.

Researchers at Tufts University in the Boston, Massachusetts area, found that only seven percent of Americans are in good cardiometabolic health.

While worrying, the findings are not surprising as the poor health of the average American has been well reported for years on end, making it one of health officials biggest puzzles to solve.

What is surprising is the level that some social determinants play in a person’s heart health, with people who are less educated or an ethnic minority more likely to be in bad health.

Only 7% of Americans are in optimal heart health, a new study finds, with increases in obesity and diabetes determined to be at most fault (file photo)

‘These numbers are striking. It’s deeply problematic that in the United States, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, fewer than 1 in 15 adults have optimal cardiometabolic health,’ Meghan O’Hearn, a doctoral candidate at Tufts and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

‘We need a complete overhaul of our healthcare system, food system, and built environment, because this is a crisis for everyone, not just one segment of the population.’ 

Researchers, who published their findings Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology,  gathered data from 55,000 people aged 20 or older from 1999 to 2018 for the study.

The most recent ten cycles of the Health and Nutritional Exam Survey were analyzed.

Each participant’s data was evaluated for five key components of health, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, whether they were overweight and by how much, and the development of cardiovascular disease.

Only seven percent of American adults were in an optimal place in all five categories.

In both the blood sugar and overweight categories, rates got significantly worse over the two decade period data was gathered from.

This has been a well recognized trend by health officials in the U.S. as well. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, nearly half of Americans are obese and over 70 percent are overweight.

The CDC also reports that more than one-in-ten Americans are also diabetic.

Both figures have rapidly shifted upwards since the turn of the century, mainly because of poor dietary habits and the number of Americans living sedentary lifestyles.

Heart disease is also the leading killer of Americans, even maintaining the title through the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘This is a health crisis we’ve been facing for a while,’ O’Hearn said.

Where researchers were surprised was when they broke down the data by race and education level.

They found that less-educated adults were only half as likely to have optimal heart health as their more scholarly peers.

While small, the number of white Americans with good heart health actually increased from 1999 to 2019, while there were declines found among Mexican-Americans, Hispanic and black people.

‘This is really problematic,’ Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, study author and dean at Tufts, said in a statement.

‘Social determinants of health such as food and nutrition security, social and community context, economic stability, and structural racism put individuals of different education levels, races, and ethnicities at an increased risk of health issues.’

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