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Poor Lifestyles Harming U.S. Heart Health: Report

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Americans' heart health is in a woeful state, says this year's report card from the American Heart Association.

And it's largely because people just aren't taking care of themselves.

In the past three or so decades, women have upped their calorie consumption by 22 percent and men by 10 percent, with carbohydrates and sugar-sweetened beverages both major sources of unneeded calories.

The inevitable result is that more than two-thirds of U.S. adults and about one-third of children are over the ideal body weight, the extra layers of fat putting a major strain on Americans' hearts.

The trend is particularly concerning in children. Today, about 20 percent of U.S. kids are obese, compared with just 4 percent 30 years ago.

Neither adults nor children are exercising enough and about 21 percent of men and 18 percent of women still smoke. About one-fifth of high school students also have taken up the smoking habit.

"This is very disturbing but not at all surprising," said Dr. Robert Michler, co-director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for Heart and Vascular Care in New York City. "Heart disease is this nation's number-one killer and the continued growth of our nation's waistline will deliver serious consequences."

The authors of the report, which appears online Dec. 15 in the journal Circulation, looked at seven markers of cardiovascular health: smoking, weight, exercise, diet, cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting blood sugar levels, as well as whether or not a person had a diagnosis of heart disease.

Using those criteria, 94 percent of U.S. adults -- that's almost everyone -- have at least one risk factor for heart disease. For example, one-third of U.S. adults have high blood pressure while 15 percent have high cholesterol.

And children aren't far behind.

The only good news?


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