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Experts Push 7 Steps to Heart Health
Date:1/20/2010

In combination, these measures from the American Heart Association are 'the fountain of youth,' expert says

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Assessing whether you are in poor, moderate or ideal cardiovascular health takes just seconds, thanks to a new American Heart Association measure of health factors and behaviors.

The seven-point checklist is part of a heart association program designed to improve U.S. cardiovascular health by 20 percent and reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent.

The program for children and adults, published online Jan. 20 in Circulation, includes well-known recommendations on diet, exercise, smoking and other risk factors, but there's more, said Dr. Clyde W. Yancy, medical director of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute and president of the heart association.

"Collectively, when these health factors and healthy behaviors are found in aggregate in one person, the effect on markers of health and healthy outcome are remarkable," Yancy said. "Your chance for meaningful longevity with good quality of life is substantially increased."

The U.S. death rate from heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular conditions has been reduced by 35 percent, with half of that improvement because of better preventive measures, Yancy said.

"By packaging these seven components together, it is possible to see a further 20 percent reduction in deaths from heart attack and stroke and also improve cardiovascular health," he said.

In a recent survey, 39 percent of Americans said they had ideal heart health, yet 54 percent of those folks said they had been told by a health professional that they had at least one risk factor for heart disease and/or needed to make a lifestyle change. This suggests that many people don't connect lifestyle behaviors like inactivity and poor diet with cardiovascular disease, the association said.

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