Cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks and stroke are the main causes of death in the US. Family history of heart disease, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are risk factors. The likelihood that several of these risk factors will manifest is increased by being overweight.
Are you in the best possible cardiovascular health? And have you reduced the likelihood that you will experience cardiovascular disease in the future? Unfortunately, according to research, not many Americans can affirmatively respond to these questions.
Cardiometabolic health: what is it?
Your heart, blood, and blood arteries are all a part of your cardiovascular system. A combination of many of these risk factors is known as cardiometabolic health. Researchers who examined survey data from more than 55,000 US adults for a paper to be published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology estimated how many people in the US have excellent cardiometabolic health. Five criteria were used to define optimal measures.
- body mass index and waist circumference in ideal ranges
- normal blood sugar (without taking medicine to lower blood sugar)
- ideal cholesterol levels (without taking medicine to lower cholesterol)
- normal blood pressure (without taking medicine to lower blood pressure)
- no evidence of cardiovascular disease, such as a prior heart attack or stroke.
The findings are in, and they are startling
Only 6.8% of the US population achieved excellent cardiometabolic health as of 2018, according to the study. That amounts to fewer than one in every 14 people.
Additionally, the researchers discovered:
- Optimal cardiometabolic health rates are falling. While 6.8% of the population had optimal cardiometabolic health in 2018, the rate was 7.7% in 2000 and 8.4% in 2004.
- Excess weight and elevated blood sugar are the biggest culprits. Between 2000 and 2018, the proportion of those with ideal body weight fell from 34% to 24%, while those with normal blood sugar levels fell from 59% to 37%.
- Health disparities are significant. For example, poorer cardiometabolic health was more common among people who were nonwhite, male, poor, less educated, or older. This may reflect social determinants of health, such as where people live and work.
And good cardiometabolic health may be even rarer now than this study suggests: these data were collected before the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is evidence that physical activity decreased and unhealthy habits increased during pandemic lockdowns.
See Also : Top 5 Remedies for Headache
Good news about cardiometabolic health tucked in among the bad news
Though disappointing, the findings of this latest research offered some good news.
- Within the youngest age group (ages 20 to 34), the proportion of those with optimal cardiometabolic health rose slightly, from about 14% in 2000 to about 15% in 2018.
- Overall, ideal cholesterol levels improved, going from about 30% of the population in 2000 to 37% in 2018.
- Many study participants had intermediate (not poor) cardiometabolic health. They might need only minor improvements to move into the optimal group.
How can your cardiometabolic health scorecard be improved?
It’s simple to get frustrated when studies reveal that Americans are falling short on health metrics and that there are health disparities between various communities. However, this could simply be a heartfelt appeal for help. It would appear to be well worth it to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
Consider your own cardiometabolic well-being. It might be improved. You can advance toward your objectives by taking small, attainable measures and having a conversation with your doctor.
- Get your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar checked. Find out what steps can help you improve them if they aren’t in an ideal range. Getting sufficient exercise, for example, can help all three.
- Lose excess weight through a healthful diet and adding more physical activity to your day.
- Quit smoking. Though not included in this latest study, smoking is among the most important risk factors for poor cardiometabolic health, as well as many types of cancer and other health problems. Your health care team can help you create a plan to quit, which may include medications, or you can try the free resources on smokefree.gov.
Improving cardiometabolic health can be difficult to do on your own. Talk to your doctor about what steps to take and how best to monitor your progress.
According to the results of this study, not enough is being done, especially among some populations, to stop the suffering and demise brought on by heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiometabolic illnesses. The good news is that we can significantly reduce our chance of developing cardiometabolic illness. So let’s get to work by rolling up our sleeves.