Monday, March 19, 2018

Most Americans found to have suboptimal cardiovascular health

A study of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1988 to 2014 found that most Americans have suboptimal cardiovascular health. While racial disparities still exist, the black-white divide has narrowed due to worsening health among whites rather than health gains among blacks. The findings are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from UCLA and the University of Washington studied NHANES data to examine U.S. trends in cardiovascular health disparities by race, ethnicity, and nativity (foreign-born vs U.S.-born) for adults aged 25 years or older who had not previously reported cardiovascular disease.

The researchers explored differences in the Life's Simple 7 (LS7) health factors and behaviors (blood pressure, cholesterol, hemoglobin A1c, body mass index, physical activity, diet, and smoking) and a composite score for optimal cardiovascular health. The study was limited to whites, African Americans and Mexican Americans.

The researchers found that rates of optimal cardiovascular health remain below 40 percent for whites, 25 percent for Mexican Americans, and 15 percent for African Americans. Health disparities between whites and blacks have persisted but decreased over time due to reductions in optimal cardiovascular health among whites of all ages.

In an accompanying editorial, George A. Mensah, MD, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), points out that the narrowing of disparities is no cause for celebration. However, LS7 factors and behaviors are simple to understand and provide the opportunity for all stakeholders and patients to take action. Dr. Mensah suggests that cardiovascular health and prevention and control of related risk factors be a key focus of the NIH's Healthy People 2030

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