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Heart Disease Risk Soars among Americans

According to a recent study, the progress made during the 1970s and 1980s to reduce heart disease risk among the American population has been reversed.

The findings of the study were published in the September 2009 issue of the journal Circulation.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA used data from adults 25 to 74 years of age who participated in 4 national surveys.

The researchers used the following five factors to categorize participants as being at low risk for heart disease:

1. Not currently smoking

2. Total cholesterol below 200 (mg/dL) and not using cholesterol-lowering drugs

3. Blood pressure (systolic/diastolic) below 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) without using blood pressure-lowering medication

4. Body mass index (BMI) less than 25 kg/m2

5. Never diagnosed with diabetes

Based on these factors, only 7.5% of US adults were placed in the low-risk category for heart disease between the years 1999 and 2004. This was a large decrease compared to 1988-1994, when 10.4% of US adults met all of the low risk factors.

The researchers blame these alarming results on an increase in obesity, diabetes and hypertension in recent decades.

According to the researchers, the only way for Americans to decrease the prevalence of these heart disease risk factors is by eating healthier and getting more exercise.

There are also an increasing number of heart healthy foods, beverages and dietary supplements available on the market. Some of the top foods for the heart include salmon, oatmeal, almonds, walnuts and wine (in moderation). Supplements such as omega-3, resveratrol and CoQ10 have also been shown to provide heart health benefits.

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