Minorities tended to fare worst, since whites tended to have more low-risk factors than either blacks or Mexican-Americans, the report found.
Why the slide back in terms of heart health? Ford cited three reasons: "decreases in the percentages of adults who were not overweight or obese, who had a favorable blood pressure, and who did not have diabetes."
There was one "bright spot," however, a "decrease in the percentage of adults who were not currently smoking," Ford said.
Because excess weight is a major cause of diabetes and hypertension, it is critical that the percentage of adults who are overweight or obese be reduced, the researcher said.
"To effect such change, the efforts of many will be required," he said. "Furthermore, efforts at reducing smoking and improving nutritional practices to lower cholesterol concentrations in the U.S. population should be sustained. Clearly, there is a lot of room for improvement."
Rob M. van Dam, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of an accompanying journal editorial, said that "the decline in cardiovascular disease mortality in the U.S. seems to be coming to an end and may even reverse because obesity and obesity-related conditions such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes are on the rise."
"This alarming development is occurring despite great improvements in medical interventions to prevent cardiovascular diseases," he said. "It is of particular concern that these trends do not yet reflect the consequences of the current epidemic of childhood obesity."
Millions of Americans are now beginning their adult lives obese, van Dam noted. That could greatly increase their risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality.
"To fundamentally address this issue, population-wide initiatives are needed to prevent obesity," he said.
Fonarow agreed. "If these trends continue, the recent gains in
All rights reserved