September 2015 – HEALTH – Most adults in the U.S. have hearts that are older than they are because of risk factors for heart attack and stroke, such as unhealthy diet, smoking, high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle and diabetes, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published Tuesday. “Your heart may be older than you are. For most adults in the United States, it is,” CDC director Thomas Frieden told Reuters. Based on data gathered from every state and existing data from the Framingham Heart Study, the CDC found that on average, 69 million Americans who have not experienced stroke or heart attack have hearts that are 7 years older than their age. The CDC used “a simple risk calculation for having or dying of heart attack or stroke,” according to Frieden. The results showed that one in two men have hearts five years older or more, the average being eight years older than their actual age.
Two in five women have hearts 5 years older on average. Furthermore, about three out of four cases of heart attack and stroke are caused by risk factors that make the heart grow “old.” Older heart age was found across racial and ethnic groups. However, it was most prevalent among African-American adults, whose average heart age was 11 years older than their real age. Older heart age was also more pronounced in the southern states, with Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia having the highest percentage of adults with older heart age. California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Utah had the lowest percentage of adults with older heart age. The CDC gave recommendations on how to lower heart age, such as maintaining an ideal blood pressure less than 120/80 and reducing the risk factors for heart attack and stroke. It also provided a heart age calculator that people can use to determine their heart age. –HNGN