Poor eating habits and low levels of physical activity are damaging health of millions of Americans. A new report from the American Heart Association says that even now one in every three deaths is due to cardiovascular diseases. The report says that increasing rates of diabetes and obesity are curbing the progress made in controlling heart disease rate.
Although, many people who suffer from this disease have a genetic predisposition to it, certain lifestyle changes can reduce health complications.
"Americans need to move a lot more, eat healthier and less, and manage risk factors as soon as they develop. If not, we'll quickly lose the momentum we've gained in reducing heart attack and stroke rates and improving survival over the last few decades," said Alan S. Go, M.D., chairman of the report's writing committee from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland.
The rate of deaths from cardiovascular diseases dropped 32.7 percent between 1999 and 2009. Deaths related to CVD now account for one in every three deaths. Each day, one person in the U.S. dies due to CVD every 40 seconds. If the current trends continue, heart health will see only an 8 percent improvement in the next few years.
Obesity and diabetes are the biggest barriers in improving heart health of Americans, the report said. Rates of obesity and diabetes are set to increase in the next decade. However, the good news is that people in the U.S. are giving up smoking which can cut the risk of many complications. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels are expected to decline in the next few years, as well.
According to the data from the report, there are currently more overweight or obese people in the country than people who are normal or underweight (34.6 percent versus 31.8 percent); about 68.2 percent adults are overweight or obese.
About 38.2 percent of adults have prediabetes while about 8.3 have diagnosed diabetes and another 8.2 percent have undiagnosed diabetes.
Americans are getting very little exercise, the report says. About 32 percent of adults reported that they don't get any aerobic activity.
"It always comes down to the same things: diet and exercise. It's a big, constant slap in the face that we're just not doing well as a country, and we're passing this on to our children," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association (AHA), reports HealthDay. Steinbaum wasn't involved in the writing of the report.
Some of the ways that can help Americans get healthy include greater community participation where people can get access to healthy food and space for physical activity, rewarding healthcare systems who have helped people cut back on health risks, educating the young generation on healthy eating habits at school and building a comprehensive worksite wellness programs.