Cardiovascular crisis? Only 1 in 5 Americans has excellent heart health

DALLAS — A staggering 80 percent of the U.S. population has either low or moderate cardiovascular health — meaning just one in five people have a heart that’s in excellent shape, according to a new study.

Using the American Heart Association’s new Life’s Essential 8 checklist, researchers discovered that just 19.6 percent of the country has a cardiovascular health score which the checklist considers “high.”

Meanwhile, the study of more than 23,400 U.S. adults and children found 62.5 percent only have “moderate” cardiovascular health and 17.9 percent have “low” cardiovascular health.

How does the checklist measure heart health?

The Life’s Essential 8 looks at eight essential components that combine to give someone ideal heart and brain health. The measures include diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep duration, body mass index, blood lipids, blood glucose, and blood pressure. The new scale is an upgrade from the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7, which did not measure sleep health.

Using a scale of 0 to 100, a score of 100 means someone has the highest or healthiest cardiovascular health score. Scores under 50 fall into the “low” cardiovascular health range, while scores between 50 and 79 indicate “moderate” heart health. Anything over 80 indicates “high” cardiovascular health. According to the new study, less than 20 percent of America reached this healthy standard.

“These data represent the first look at the cardiovascular health of the U.S. population using the AHA’s new Life’s Essential 8 scoring algorithm,” says lead study author Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, president of the American Heart Association, in a media release. “Overall, the cardiovascular health of the U.S. population is suboptimal, and we see important differences across age and sociodemographic groups. Analyses like this can help policy makers, communities, clinicians and the public to understand the opportunities to intervene to improve and maintain optimal cardiovascular health across the life course.”

The findings come from health information from U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys completed between 2013 and 2018. The survey included roughly 9,900 children under the age of 19.

Americans are stuck in the 60s

Overall, the average American adult only scored 64.7 on the Life’s Essential 8 checklist. Children scored 65.5 out of 100. For kids, the checklist adjusted the scores to fit the age-related differences in diet, physical activity, and BMI.

Women scored slightly higher (67) than adult men (62.5), with both groups posting their lowest scores in diet, physical activity, and BMI categories. In general, the scores also dipped lower as adults got older.

When looking at the differences between the country’s racial and ethnic groups, the study finds Asian Americans have the best average cardiovascular health scores. Non-Hispanic White individuals had the second-highest health scores, with Hispanics (not including Mexicans), Mexicans, and Non-Hispanic Black individuals following in that order.

Concerningly, children’s diet scores had an average of just 40.6 and a miniscule 0.45 percent of the entire study group achieved a perfect score of 100.

The findings are published in Circulation, the American Heart Association’s flagship, peer-reviewed journal.

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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    1. its a bunch of nonsense. I am a 54 year old caucasion male at proper weight and have very high cholesterol so I would score poorly based on these parameters. However, I exercise every day and my diet is low in carbs and very high in fat. My blood pressure is very low and my resting heart rate is 50 bpm. My PCP recommended statins and other cholesterol drugs but first I decided to take a coronary calcium scan which tests for actual heart disease.

      The coronary calcium scan test results show that I have zero arterial blockage. My PCP said that at my age 20-30% blockage would not be uncommon so zero blockage means I have zero heart disease.

      The low fat dietary recommendations for the last 50+ years are exactly backwards. We should all be exercising daily and eating a hi-fat and low carb diet. My diet makes it easy to keep a healthy weight and I have zero chance of getting diabetes.


  1. Lies, just need to start the cover up from the shots. You need an escape a scapegoat for the killer shots, so you all are starting the propaganda lie that people just have bad hearts, because you can see that SUDDENLY people are dying and you know exactly why. Your not going to get away with it, no of you will escape prosecution and the consequences of what you have done.

  2. Cardiologists are way too quick to pass judgement over peoples hearts. In their fervor to put stents into every heart they can the overdiagnoses people. They make $17K for 20 minutes work. I was sent to a cardiology department after elective surgery because the anesthesiologist pumped 5 liters too much fluid into me during surgery. Instead of just treating me for hypervolemia (too much fluid) an overzealous cardiologist decided to send me to have an angiogram. It was way too soon after surgery and according to the NIH could have killed me after the 11 hour surgery. They found no blockage at all. I know this because I wouldn’t let them put me back under so soon after surgery since I was drowning with so much fluid in my lungs. I was awake through the procedure and the cardiologist and technician and I all saw no blockage. the next day another cardiologist came into my room and told me he was going to give me a stent and put me on Plavix for life. I told him to “Get out of my room” and called for a hospital administrator. I am very aware of the problems caused by overdiagnosis and over treatment for non existent problems. I later had the test results verified by an independent set of doctors. Who said what I already knew. There was no blockage. Be careful before you agree to an invasive procedure. A stent can’t be removed except through open heart surgery and it irritates the heart till you die. Plavix is used to keep cholesterol from building up around it since it causes a problem (like a grain of sand inside a pearl) that wasn’t existing before. I am totally fine as is my heart. I bicycle every day and don’t take anything for heart problems since I don’t have any. Use your brain and get a second opinion before you agree to anything that can’t be reversed.

    1. how about overeating, lack of exercising, and basically not caring about their quality of health.

    2. Yeah that’s it. Free heathcare that will solve everything. Maybe getting off our collective fat asses and stop eating fast food would be a start not the stupid federal government running our health care.

      1. Well…not everyone can do that. I speak as an almost blind, handicapped senior citizen with diabetic neuropathy who must use a walker.

    3. BS
      We are sick because of poor diet and lack of exercise. Healthcare is primarily focused on treating people after or as they become sick as a result of poor lifestyle choices. Your health is your responsibility.

    4. …and poor lifestyle choices. Healthcare has little to nothing to do with our horrific American diet/lack of exercise.

  3. High schools need to open up their tracks for public use.Not everyone is an Adam Lanza or Sal Ramos.

  4. “Only 1 in 5 Americans has excellent heart health”…since taking the COVID vaccines.

  5. Unfortunately, the test criteria are not proven to be objectively selected and could have been selected to skew the results a priori, even if without malice or direct intention. Nor is there a correlation with health outcomes and longevity. That is, these are things that would be known to give low scores to Americans, thus skewing the overall results, rather than things that would be neutral or positive. And how do Americans compare to other countries in this study?

  6. I would like to see the parameters of the test. I have no doubt that the actual heart heart of the US population is poor, but are they basing their results on outdated biomarkers?
    Was it a a basic lipd profile or was it an NMR or something similar? Did the base a poor result solely off of a high LDL count or did they also take into account triglyceride to HDL ratio and small LDL particle count?
    Did they check insulin resistance?
    Did they count a diet high in glucose as a marker of poor heart health?
    Did they automatically assume that a diet high in saturated fat as poor heat health?
    I have just those question right off the top of my head.

  7. In related news, the American Bubblegum Association released the results of their survey of jaw strength. Based on their newly developed guidelines for ideal jaw musculature, it would appear that many Americans are woefully lacking in this crucial area.

    Said a representative, “cud-chewing ability is closely related to overall aging, and drops off markedly after the teen years”. It remains to be seen if a daily regimen of Bazooka Joe in adults could remedy this outcome.

    Based on their findings, the ABA will work closely with local government agencies to establish compulsory programs in the areas remedial bubble-blowing and mustache hygiene.

    This report has been brought to you by MDS Weekly, your best source for marketing disguised as science.

  8. Lost me on the assessment with the use of BMI as a wellness parameter. It is greatly flawed and should only be used in conjunction with the “eyeball test”. I’m in no way “overweight” I lift weights so have more muscle than an average person…MUCH less fat.

  9. working out + eating right isnt hard – gym memberships are $30-50/month and buying fruits + veggies instead of snacks + frozen food is common sense. laziness, lack of discipline + motivation are the primary causes. clot shots might be something on the horizon as well.

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