Almost half of the adults in the United States have some form of cardiovascular disease, a new study says.
Roughly 120 million American adults have some combination of heart failure, coronary heart disease or high blood pressure, according to the 2019 update of the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Statistics, published Thursday in the journal Circulation.
In general, cardiovascular disease, or CVD, is made up of one, two or a combination of the three conditions.
“As one of the most common and dangerous risk factors for heart disease and stroke, this overwhelming presence of high blood pressure can’t be dismissed from the equation in our fight against cardiovascular disease,” Ivor J. Benjamin, volunteer president of the American Heart Association, said in a news release. “Research has shown that eliminating high blood pressure could have a larger impact on CVD deaths than the elimination of all other risk factors among women and all except smoking among men.”
This year, part of the reason incidences of CVD have increased drastically from the past is due to new blood pressure guidelines that define 130/80 mm Hg as high blood pressure. Previously the number was 140/90 mm Hg.
Still, people need to do more than exercise to lose weight, AHA experts said.
Between 2015 and 2016, nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults and more than 18 percent of young people were obese. And close to 8 percent of adults and 6 percent of young reportedly had severe obesity.
Most of these outcomes, however, can be avoided. People can prevent about 80 percent of all cardiovascular disease by eating healthier, exercising and losing weight, according to the AHA. These habits can control high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
The AHA has also created a new category when considering cardiovascular health: lack of sleep. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than seven hours a night or more than eight a night are at a higher risk for heart disease.
“We pour so much effort into our update each year because we believe in the transformative power of continuously and systematically collecting, analyzing and interpreting these important data,” said Mariell Jessup, Chief Science and Medical Officer of the American Heart Association. “They hold us accountable and help us chart our progress and determine if and how we need to adjust our efforts.”