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American heart health takes bad turn

ATLANTA, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Obesity, diabetes and hypertension are eroding heart health gains of past decades, U.S. researchers say.

The study, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, finds only one in 12 U.S. adults -- 8.3 percent -- had a low-risk profile for cardiovascular disease in the 1994-2004 period. However, there is one encouraging finding: Fewer adults are smoking.

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Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys shows 4.4 percent of adults rated low risk in 1971-1975, 5.7 percent in 1976-1980, 10.5 percent in 1988-1994 and 7.5 percent in 1999-2004.

"Until the early '90s, we were moving in a positive direction, but then it took a turn and we're headed in a negative direction," the lead author, Dr. Earl Ford of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said in a statement.

The adults in the study were ages 25-74 and were considered low risk if they never smoked or were former smokers, were never diagnosed with diabetes, and kept total cholesterol below 200 milligrams per deciliter and blood pressure below 120/80 without the help of medication.

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