Doctors recommend regular exercise, a healthy diet and five simple steps to reduce short-term risk of getting heart attacks among Americans, but recent study reveals that only two of 17,820 adult participants observed it strictly.

"Boy, most Americans aren't very healthy," said Dr. Mark Urman, medical director of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute's Preventive and Consultative Heart Center. "On a more positive note, the study confirms that individuals can take control of their health. Incremental changes can make a huge difference."

The American Heart Association has come up with seven steps for good cardiovascular health. Doctors suggest a modest 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or at least 75 minutes of it if it is intense. One should ideally aim towards a BMI of less than 25, stop smoking at least for a year, keep cholesterol on check, i.e. below 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood and finally maintain blood sugar levels at 120/80 with a fasting sugar below 100 mg/dL of blood.

"These are the sorts of things your grandmother told you," said Dr. Mary Cushman, a cardiovascular disease researcher at the University of Vermont, who conducted the study.

People between ages 45 and 84 were taken for study. While the researchers observed how many of them met all seven criteria mentioned above, they found just two individuals, while 213 people were compliant with six.

Cushman noted that mortality rates among those who met at least five of those criteria was 55 per cent or even lower in some cases.

With every additional criterion they met, researchers noted that a person reduced his chances of dying by about 15 per cent on an average.

"That tells how powerful these things relate to heart disease risk," Cushman said. "Being as good as you can be on all of these factors is what your goal should be."

Most Americans are only passive smokers and abstaining from that and keeping BP on check isn’t a tough thing for them. In fact, according to a study, about 80 per cent of them were nonsmokers and about 67 per cent of them kept BP under control. They fail when it comes to eating a healthy diet. Only 0.43 per cent of them managed to do so.