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Are you an American? Then you're probably not at low risk of heart disease

September 14, 2009 |  4:03 pm

To be at low risk of heart disease, adults should be able to say, honestly, that they don't smoke, that their total cholesterol is below 200 (without the use of drugs), that their blood pressure is below 120/80 (again, without drugs), that they don't have diabetes and that they're not overweight.

Eat And very few people can say this. Only 7.5% in fact.

The results are presented in research published today in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Assn. They're based on an analysis of four National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

The woefully low percentage rate is from 1999-2004 data. And it's a drop from the none-too-impressive 10.5% in the 1988-94 set of data.

Although 10.5% may not have seemed reason to cheer, it was an improvement over earlier numbers. Now we're backsliding, said the researchers, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Here's the abstract from the study. And because the full content isn't publicly available, here's more from the blog Cardiobrief. It describes the findings as frightening, troubling and gloomy. Understatements, all.

To assess your personal risk, try this calculator from the American Heart Assn. Note that you need cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and fasting blood sugar readings. If you don't have those, perhaps it's time to get them. Odds are: You're not at low risk.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Too much of a good thing, in some cases, can shorten your chance of a long and healthy life.

Credit: Andy Rain / EPA

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Comments (2)

I am an American and a vegan. I am at low risk for heart disease according to the criteria listed. It's all about lifestyle choices: all day, every day, no meat, no dairy products, no eggs, no hydrogenated fats. Lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. At 61 years of age, I feel great. My heart is strong, my blood pressure always measures as perfect. I love being healthy!

These are risk factors and as such do have some predictive power but to really find out what is going on in your particular arteries you should have an EBCT scan which measures the volume of plaque you are carrying. This tells you whether you have a problem or not. It is a non-invasive test with relatively low radiation exposure ( unlike it's cousin the CTA angiogram) and if you have a zero score or a very low score for your age group it might save you from being chronically exposed to the side effects of statins and blood pressure drugs.


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