It is well-known that heart disease is the biggest killer in the world. That is especially true in the United States, where obesity and overweight, two conditions heavily linked with cardiovascular problems, is a huge public health concern. However, the heart health of Americans is less well-known. In a study conducted by the American Heart Association, the findings reveal that just three percent of Americans have optimum heart health, meaning that we have a lot of work to do.
The study also found that 10 percent of Americans have poor heart health. The findings are based on a 2009 study that surveyed 350,000 Americans - a significant portion of the country. In order to be considered a person with optimal heart health, a person needed to meet all of the following criteria: they did not have high blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes; they were not overweight, obese, or underweight; they did not smoke; they performed 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week; and they ate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Considering that a Gallup study found that an average of 62.8 percent - nearly two-thirds - of Americans were either obese or overweight, it is clear that they were difficult criteria for many Americans to meet. On the other hand, a recent study found that it was possible to be overweight and healthy.
People with coronary heart disease or those who had suffered from stroke were excluded from the study.
Generally, western and New England states had the highest percentage of people with ideal heart health, though the District of Columbia blows all of the states out of the water. Washington, DC had 6.9 percent of Americans with healthy hearts, Vermont boasted of 5.5 percent, and Virginia had 5 percent. On the other side of the spectrum, only 1.2 percent of Oklahomans had optimal heart health, while West Virginia and Mississippi, the most obese state in the union, reported that 1.5 percent of its population met the golden standard.
The findings were based on self-reports. As a result, the amount of people with optimal heart health may have been overestimated if people did not know that they had a certain condition.
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The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.