WEDNESDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Although significant progress has been made in the United States in terms of decreasing smoking and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, a new report warns that cardiovascular disease -- including heart disease and stroke -- still causes the death of one American every 40 seconds.
The report from the American Heart Association emphasizes that two big factors stand in the way of improving U.S. heart health: poor eating habits and a lack of physical activity.
"It always comes down to the same things: diet and exercise. It's a big, constant slap in the face that we're just not doing well as a country, and we're passing this on to our children," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association (AHA).
Steinbaum was not involved in writing the current report, which was published in the first January 2013 issue of the journal Circulation.
The American Heart Association previously set a goal of reducing heart disease and stroke deaths by 20 percent by 2020. But if the current trends continue, America's heart health may only improve by 6 percent by 2020, according to the report.
"It is discouraging that we're not going to be meeting those goals," said Dr. Kenneth Ong, acting chief in the division of cardiology at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.
What's even more discouraging is that the biggest reasons Americans may not meet these goals are potentially preventable lifestyle factors.
The report found that more than 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and nearly 35 percent are obese. In addition, almost 32 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are overweight or obese.
Nearly one-third of all adults get no aerobic activity each week. And, maybe worse, almost 18
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