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Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Have Heart Risk Factors
Date:4/26/2010

High blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes now widespread, CDC survey finds

MONDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly half of all American adults have either high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, each a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular problems, a new government survey finds.

The latest report on the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2006 shows that 45 percent of those questioned in the survey had at least one of the three risk factors: 30.5 percent with high blood pressure, 26 percent with high blood cholesterol levels and 9.9 percent with diabetes.

About one in eight adults -- 13 percent -- had two of the conditions and 3 percent had all three, the survey found. These rates were consistently higher among blacks.

What's even more alarming is that "15 percent of the population is unaware that they have one or more of these conditions," said survey author Cheryl D. Fryar, a health statistician with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That report is the latest in a nonstop pulse-taking effort by the CDC, which has adults answer a questionnaire about their health status and then performs physical examinations and blood tests.

The latest NHANES results were not particularly surprising, Fryar said. While the new report doesn't give trends over time, other work shows that blood cholesterol levels actually have dropped slightly because of the introduction of cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins, she noted.

"For hypertension [high blood pressure], there has been no significant change from 1999 to 2006, and the prevalence of diabetes has increased slightly," Fryar said.

Blacks had a particularly high incidence of hypertension, 42.5 percent, compared to 29.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 26.1 percent of Mexican-Americans. High blood cholesterol was more common among
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