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Obesity, Inactivity Keeping Heart Health Stats Down
Date:12/17/2009

Treatments have improved, but Americans fall down on prevention, experts say

THURSDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- While physicians and surgeons are getting better at treating heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems, too many Americans are ignoring the basic rules for preventing them, according to new statistics from the American Heart Association.

Topping the list: too little exercise, too much weight.

In fact, 59 percent of adults surveyed last year reported no activity vigorous enough to prompt sweating and a significant increase in breathing or heart rate, according to the update. The findings are published online Dec. 17 in the journal Circulation.

"The things people need to focus on are our weight and our waist," said Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, chair of the heart association's statistics committee. "Those are driving a lot of other risk factors, such as cholesterol and diabetes."

Tackling inactivity and overweight will be key to turning heart health statistics around said Lloyd-Jones, who is also chairman of the department of preventive medicine and staff cardiologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The American diet also demands more attention, he said. "There is just too much availability of very calorie-dense food," he said. "We're not doing anything to burn off those extra pounds."

Data from 2003-2006 shows that 11.3 percent of children and teenagers were at or above the 97th percentile in body mass index for their age. That's ominous, because oerweight teens have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults, the report notes.

Preventive measures should be emphasized for younger people, Lloyd-Jones said. "We need to be thinking about this as a life-long problem, not just when you turn 50," he said.

Cholesterol control is ignored by many who would benefit from it most, according to the Heart Disease and Stroke
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