By Gwyn Wright via SWNS
Less than one in 14 people have a healthy heart, warns a new study.
Researchers found just 6.8 percent of people had just the right levels of blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol as well as a healthy weight and suitably low risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
They say the worrying figures have got worse over the decades.
A third of Americans were not too fat in 1999 but just a quarter were a healthy weight in 2018.
Three fifths of Americans did not have diabetes or pre-diabetes at the turn of the millennium, but that figure had fallen to below two fifths by 2018.
Huge racial and socioeconomic disparities were uncovered in the research.
Adults with less education were half as likely to have a healthy heart compared to their better educated peers.
Mexican Americans’ hearts were just a third as healthy as non-Hispanic white adults.
While non-Hispanic white American hearts grew just a bit healthier over the past two decades, Americans of other races had less healthy hearts than they had 23 years ago.
The researchers say their findings suggest the US faces a devastating health crisis and needs to completely overhaul its healthcare, food system and buildings to address it.
For the study, the team looked at facts and figures on 55,000 Americans older than 20 in the US Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The researchers looked at all components of heart health rather than just the presence or absence of disease.
Lead study author Meghan O’Hearn from Tufts University in Boston said: “These numbers are striking. It’s deeply problematic that in the United States, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, fewer than 1 in 15 adults have optimal cardiometabolic health.
“We need a complete overhaul of our healthcare system, food system, and built environment, because this is a crisis for everyone, not just one segment of the population.
“We need to shift the conversation, because disease is not the only problem.
“We don’t just want to be free of disease. We want to achieve optimal health and well-being.”
The study’s senior author Dr .Dariush Mozaffarian said: “The racial disparities are really problematic.
“Social determinants of health such as food and nutrition security, social and community context, economic stability, and structural racism put individuals of different education levels, races, and ethnicities at an increased risk of health issues.”
The team say the problem has a huge impact on the amount the country spends on health and the overall health of its economy.
They argue incentives and subsidies should be rolled out to make healthy food more affordable, improve education about healthy eating, good foods should be used to help prevent and treat illnesses and the private sector should be engaged with to help create a healthier food system.
O’Hearn,a PhD student, added: “We have the public health and clinical interventions and policies to be able to address these problems.
“We need the political will and desire to do it. This is a health crisis we’ve been facing for a while.
“Now there’s a growing economic, social and ethical imperative to give this problem significantly more attention than it has been getting.”
The findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
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