The percentage of people who had one or more risk factors and were unaware of it was consistent across the three ethnic categories, the survey found.
The CDC survey doesn't attempt to learn the reason why the incidence of these major risk factors is so high, Fryar said.
Dr. Clyde W. Yancy, medical director of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute at Baylor University Medical Center, and president of the American Heart Association, thinks he knows the reason: obesity.
"The burden of risk is directly related to the burden of obesity," Yancy said. "Obesity is directly related to high blood pressure, directly related to diabetes, directly related to an abnormal lipid profile."
And with 60 percent of adult Americans and 30 percent of younger Americans overweight or obese, the burden threatens to become worse, he said.
While the message about obesity and what causes it -- lack of exercise, poor diet, overeating -- is sent repeatedly, "people don't get it," Yancy said. "They are putting us at the risk of having a generation of Americans that has worse health than the previous generation, which has never happened before," he said.
The CDC report is "a call to arms," Yancy said. "Targeting obesity should now be on the top of the radar screen for everybody."
Hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes are among the cardiovascular risk factors listed by the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Cheryl Fryar, M.S.P.H., health statistician, U.S. Centers for Disease Cont
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