Heart age of most Americans outpaces their actual age

Nearly 69 million adults have a heart that is functionally older than their chronological age.
By Stephen Feller   |   Sept. 1, 2015 at 5:00 PM
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ATLANTA, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 3 out of 4 adults in the United States have a heart age that is older than their actual age, posing potential health risks for nearly 69 million adults between the ages of 30 and 74.

Heart age is based on is the calculated age of a person's cardiovascular system based on risk and lifestyle health factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes and BMI.

"Too many U.S. adults have a heart age years older than their real age, increasing their risk of heart disease and stroke," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, in a press release. "Everybody deserves to be young -- or at least not old -- at heart."

The CDC study, published in Vital Signs, used data from the Framingham Heart Study to determine the age of adult hearts in the United States.

 

Researchers found that the average heart age for adult men is 8 years older than their chronological age and 5 years older for women. Average age of hearts outpaced real age for nearly every racial and ethnic group, with black men and women having the highest heart age at 11 years past their chronological age.

The problem is worse for men than women, as researchers reported that 1 out every 2 men's hearts is 5 years older than their actual age and 2 out of every 5 women's hearts are 5 years older. Roughly 3 out of every 4 heart attacks and strokes are due to heart age-related causes.

Additionally, the researchers found that while heart age generally increases with age, whether or not it outpaces real age, and that heart age decreases with greater education and household income.

Researchers suggest people learn their heart age and take steps, with the help of doctors, to reduce. Tactics may include quitting smoking and lowering blood pressure through healthier diets, medication and exercise.

 

"Because so many U.S. adults don't understand their cardiovascular disease risk, they are missing out on early opportunities to prevent future heart attacks or strokes," said Dr. Barbara Bowman, director of the CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. "It's important to continue focusing on efforts to improve heart health and increase access to early and affordable detection and treatment resources nationwide."

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