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Heart Health Worst in the South, Best in Northeast
Date:12/19/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Residents of several Southern states are among the most likely to have poor heart health in the United States, a new study finds.

But the country as a whole is having trouble. Only about 3 percent of U.S. adults surveyed who don't have heart problems managed to meet all of seven criteria for cardiac well-being, such as ideal levels of weight, blood pressure, physical activity and diet.

On the other side, nearly 10 percent of those surveyed were in poor shape heart-wise, meeting two or fewer of the requirements. That number reached 16 percent in West Virginia, 14 percent in Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky, and 13 percent in Louisiana.

"Disparity continues to exist in cardiovascular health in America, not just by social demographics like race, gender, age and education level, but also by state," said study lead author Dr. Jing Fang, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the United States, heart disease is responsible for an estimated one-third of all deaths. However, researchers say death levels for cardiovascular disease have fallen significantly over the last four decades, and a lot of that has to do with people taking better care of their health.

The new study is based on a survey of more than 350,000 people in 2009 who didn't have existing heart disease or previous strokes. The study authors acknowledged that its design has a weakness because it relies on people's perceptions of their health instead of medical records.

The investigators examined whether the participants met seven criteria for ideal cardiac health set by the American Heart Association: no high blood pressure; no high cholesterol; no diabetes; a healthy weight; no smoking; at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity; and a diet with five or more servin
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