Entertainment · July 5, 2022

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, a study finds

  • Just 7% of Americans have optimal heart health, but the numbers have been declining in recent years, a new study finds
  • Researchers blame the increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes for much of the decline in heart health
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans every year and retains the title even during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • It has been found that people with less education and ethnic minorities are at greatest risk of poor heart health

A surprisingly small 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.

The results, while worrying, are not surprising given that the ill health of the average American has been well reported for years, making it one of public health officials’ biggest mysteries to solve.

What is surprising is the extent to which some social determinants play on an individual’s heart health, with people with less education or ethnic minorities being more likely to have poor health.

Just 7% of Americans are in optimal heart health, a new study finds, with increases in obesity and diabetes blamed at best (file photo)

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

“We need a complete overhaul of our healthcare system, our food system and our built environment because this is a crisis for everyone, not just a portion of the population.”

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

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

Each participant’s data was analyzed for five key components: health, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, whether and how much obesity and the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Only seven percent of American adults scored optimally in all five categories.

In both the blood glucose and obesity categories, rates deteriorated significantly over the two decades from which data were collected.

This is also a trend recognized by health authorities in the US. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 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 numbers have shifted upwards rapidly since the turn of the century, largely due to poor dietary habits and the number of Americans leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Heart disease is also the leading cause of death among Americans, retaining the title even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a health crisis that we have faced for some time,” O’Hearn said.

Where the 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 educated peers.

The number of white Americans with good heart health, while small, actually increased from 1999 to 2019, while decreases were seen among Mexicans, Hispanics, and blacks.

“It’s really problematic,” said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, study author and dean at Tufts, in a statement.

“Social determinants of health, such as food and nutritional security, social and community context, economic stability, and structural racism, put individuals of diverse education levels, race, and ethnicity at increased risk of health problems.”