A new study that used an updated checklist from the American Heart Association found that about 1 in 5 Americans have good heart health.
A new study published today in the journal Circulation found that about 80% of people in the United States have low to moderate cardiovascular health based on the new Life’s Essential 8 checklist from the American Heart Association. Life’s Essential 8, which was also published today in Circulation, explains the Association’s updated advice on how to measure cardiovascular health, including the fact that healthy sleep is important for both the heart and the brain.
Researchers used the Life Essential 8 metrics, which include a person’s diet, level of physical activity, nicotine use, length of sleep, body mass index, blood lipids, blood glucose, and blood pressure, to figure out how healthy their heart is overall.
The Life’s Essential 8 metrics are an updated version of the scientifically proven Life’s Simple 7 metrics, which did not include sleep health. Some of the metrics in Life’s Essential 8 were also changed from the last version to be more sensitive to differences between groups of people. For adults, a person’s overall cardiovascular health is measured by adding up the scores for all 8 metrics and dividing the total by 8. This gives a Life’s Essential 8 score that ranges from 0 to 100. So, a score of 100 means that your heart health is the best it can be. Overall scores below 50 show “low” cardiovascular health, scores between 50 and 79 show “moderate” cardiovascular health, and scores of 80 and above show “high” cardiovascular health.
The first study to use Life’s Essential 8 to measure cardiovascular health found that, among more than 23,400 U.S. adults and children without cardiovascular disease, the overall cardiovascular health of the U.S. population is well below ideal, with 80 percent of adults scoring at a low or moderate level. Researchers looked at health information from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys from 2013 to 2018. The surveys included more than 13,500 adults (ages 20 to 79) and nearly 9,900 children (ages 2 to 19 years).
“The new metric for sleep duration is based on the latest research,” AHA president Donald M. LLoyd Jones said in a statement. “Sleep affects your health as a whole, and people with better sleep patterns are better able to control their weight, blood pressure, or risk for Type 2 diabetes.”
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One study measured the heart health of more than 23,400 Americans who were free of cardiovascular disease using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys conducted in 2013–2018. Eighty percent of American people were found to fall into the poor or intermediate category.
Both adults and children scored below 66 on the health scale on average. Nearly 20% of American people had great cardiovascular health, 62.5 percent had intermediate cardiovascular health, and 17.9 percent had bad cardiovascular health.
According to the study, adults had the lowest ratings in the categories of food, physical activity, and BMI, and overall scores declined with age.
According to study leader Lloyd-Jones, “the cardiovascular health of the U.S. population as a whole is unsatisfactory, and we see considerable variations across age and sociodemographic categories.”
He added, “Analyses like this can aid policymakers, communities, clinicians, and the public in understanding the chances to intervene to enhance and maintain good cardiovascular health throughout the life course.