Americans' heart health varies significantly from state to state

January 4, 2013

Americans' cardiovascular health varies greatly from state to state, according to new research in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA).

The study is the first to assess cardiovascular health at the state level.

"Since the (CDC) is funding state heart disease and programs, we thought it would be helpful to have cardiovascular health information on the state level, to help better focus our efforts," said Jing Fang, M.D., M.S., an epidemiologist with the CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.

Using 2009 data from the Surveillance System – a telephone survey of more than 350,000 people in the 50 states and Washington, D.C. –researchers collected information on the 's seven major heart-health factors: blood pressure, total cholesterol, smoking, , diabetes, physical activity, and fruit and . These factors are used as a proxy measure in this study for a healthy diet.

Researchers found:

  • The percentage of the population reporting ideal cardiovascular health—defined as having optimal levels of all seven factors—was lowest in Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Mississippi and highest in Washington, D.C., Vermont and Virginia.
  • About 3 percent of the total U.S. population reported having ideal heart health.
  • About 10 percent of the total population reported having poor cardiovascular health, with two or less heart-health factors at optimal levels.
  • In general, people living in western and New England states reported having a higher percentage of ideal cardiovascular health.
"Americans reported having on average more than four of the seven ," Fang said. "We also found large disparities by age, sex, race/ethnicity and levels of education."
  • Those who were 65 or older reported the lowest percentage of ideal heart health while the 35-54 age group reported the highest percentage of ideal heart health.
  • Women said they were faring better than men.
  • Whites and Asian/Pacific Islanders reported highest rates of heart health while Blacks, Native Americans and Alaska Natives fared most poorly.
  • Those in the highest education group reported better health than the other groups.
Estimates in the report could help those charged with preventing heart disease and stroke set statewide goals for reducing risk and improving cardiovascular health.

"This study gives us important information about the factors and behaviors that need the most improvement in each state to achieve the American Heart Association's goal of improving cardiovascular health for all Americans," Fang said.

The American Heart Association goal is, by the year 2020, to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

"The comparisons offered by Fang and colleagues illustrate a critical point: Cardiovascular health status in the United States varies considerably by age, sex, race/ethnicity and education as well as by state," said Donna Arnett, Ph.D., president of the American Heart Association and author of an editorial that accompanies the Fang paper in JAHA.

"This diversity necessitates that innovative, customized strategies be developed to most effectively improve cardiovascular health for specific states and among subpopulations."

Learn your heart health score and find out about the 7 heart at www.MyLifeCheck.heart.org .

Explore further: Heart health worst in the South, best in Northeast

Related Stories

Heart health worst in the South, best in Northeast

December 19, 2012
(HealthDay)—Residents of several Southern states are among the most likely to have poor heart health in the United States, a new study finds.

Unhealthy behaviors could slow progress in reducing heart disease, stroke

December 12, 2012
Poor eating and exercise habits could be the game-changer in the fight against heart disease and stroke deaths, according to the American Heart Association's "Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update 2013," published in ...

Hispanics more heart-healthy than other americans: study

November 6, 2012
(HealthDay)—Hispanic Americans meet more heart-healthy goals than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States, according to a new study.

US heart disease on decline: study

October 13, 2011
Cases of heart disease in the United States have declined in the last several years, down to six percent of the population in 2010 compared to 6.7 percent in 2006, health authorities said Thursday.

Study finds state wealth affects women's heart disease risk

March 20, 2012
According to new research from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), a state's level of wealth or poverty is linked with levels of cardiovascular inflammation in women. Cardiovascular inflammation is a key risk factor for heart ...

Recommended for you

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

Heart study finds faulty link between biomarkers and clinical outcomes

July 14, 2017
Surrogate endpoints (biomarkers), which are routinely used in clinical research to test new drugs, should not be trusted as the ultimate measure to approve new health interventions in cardiovascular medicine, according to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.