Study Shows Only 1 in 5 People in the United States Have Optimal Heart Health

Study finds that only 19.6% of US adults have high cardiovascular health, whereas 62.5% have moderate health and 17.9% have low.

A new study found that approximately 80% of people in the United States have low to moderate cardiovascular health, based on the American Heart Association (AHA)’s new Life’s Essential 8 checklist, according to Circulation, an AHA peer-reviewed journal.

Life’s Essential 8 metrics were incorporated into the AHA My Life Check tool to determine a cardiovascular health score based on 8 essential components for ideal heart and brain health: diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep duration, body mass index, blood lipids, blood glucose, and blood pressure.

The new checklist is an update from the previous Life’s Simple 7, which did not include sleep health, and includes more sensitive metrics that are catered to differences among groups of people.

For adults, overall cardiovascular health is calculated by summing the scores for each of the 8 metrics together and dividing the total by 8, which helps provide a Life’s Essential 8 score ranging from 0-100. Overall scores below a 50 indicate “low” cardiovascular health, 50-79 is considered “moderate” and scores of 80 and above indicate “high” cardiovascular health.

The analysis offered an array of important information for health care providers, such as:

  • The average cardiovascular health score based on Life’s Essential 8 was 64.7 for US adults and 65.5 for US children. Further, the children’s average took into consideration age-based modifications for metrics in diet, physical activity, and BMI for children between 2 and 19 years of age.
  • Only 0.45% of adults scored 100 on Life’s Essential 8.
  • 19.6% of US adults had high cardiovascular health; 62.5% moderate; and 17.9% low.
  • Adult women had higher average cardiovascular health scores (67) compared to men (62.5).
  • US adults scored lowest in the areas of diet, physical activity, and BMI.
  • Individuals who identify as non-Hispanic Asian Americans had a higher average cardiovascular health score than other racial/ethnic groups. Meanwhile, non-Hispanic White individuals had the second highest average cardiovascular health score, followed in order by Hispanic (other than Mexican), Mexican, and non-Hispanic Black individuals.
  • Children’s diet scores were low and had an average of 40.6.
  • Adult sociodemographic groups varied notably in cardiovascular health scores for diet, nicotine exposure, blood glucose, and blood pressure.

"These data represent the first look at the cardiovascular health of the US population using the AHA's new Life’s Essential 8 scoring algorithm,” said study lead Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, FAHA, president of the AHA, and chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, in the press release.

“Overall, the cardiovascular health of the US population is suboptimal, and we see important differences across age and sociodemographic groups. Analyses like this can help policy makers, communities, clinicians and the public to understand the opportunities to intervene to improve and maintain optimal cardiovascular health across the life course.”

REFERENCE

Only 1 in 5 people in the US has optimal heart health. American Heart Association. June 29, 2022. Accessed June 29, 2022. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/only-1-in-5-people-in-the-u-s-has-optimal-heart-health