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According to study, very few Americans have 'healthy' hearts

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 28th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

If you're concerned that you may lag behind in physical fitness and optimal heart health, don't feel bad. According to a new medical study, a mere three percent of all Americans have optimal heart health, while 10 percent have poor heart health. Those are the rather depressing findings from the American Heart Association.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The District of Columbia has the highest percentage of people with ideal heart health at 6.9 percent. That average is followed by Vermont with 5.5 percent. Virginia comes in third place at five percent. The states with the lowest percentage of people in ideal heart health are Oklahoma, at 1.2 percent, followed by West Virginia and Mississippi, both at 1.5 percent.

The recent findings were compiled from a 2009 survey of more than 350,000 Americans that collected information on seven indicators of heart health.

Those considered at optimal heart health met the following criteria: They did not have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes; they were not overweight, underweight or obese; they did not smoke; they did at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week; and they ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The maximum score was 7, and the average was 4.4.

People living in New England and western states had higher instances of people with ideal heart health than did people hailing from southern states.

The study proved that the heart health of Americans varies dramatically by state, the researchers said. The study estimates could be used to help states set goals for improving heart health in their areas, they said.

The study excluded people with coronary heart disease and stroke due to risk factors for heart disease in this population differ from those in people who don't have a history of CHD or stroke. 

The findings were totally based on people's self-reports. As a result, the study could have overestimated the percentage of people in ideal heart health if individuals didn't know they had a certain condition.

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