Nearly Half of All Americans Have Heart Disease

The American Heart Association points to ways to reduce risk factors.
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Half of America has heart disease

Nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association’s annual report, Heart and Stroke Statistics. The report, published Thursday in the medical journal Circulation, showed that 48 percent of Americans – nearly 121.5 million adults – have coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, or high blood pressure, contributing to "immense health and economic burdens in the United States and globally."

While cardiovascular disease-related deaths had been declining over the past few years, the report shows that they are once again on the rise.

The prevalence of hypertension or high blood pressure is increasing as well, though this is partly due to a new way of defining the condition, reports CNN. People with a blood pressure of 130/80 or above are now considered hypertensive, whereas the cutoff was previously a blood pressure of 140/90. The Association notes that about eight in every ten cases of cardiovascular disease can be prevented by controlling diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.

Cardiovascular disease is linked to genetics, but also to lifestyle habits including exercise, smoking, exposure to certain toxins like BPA, and diet. One 2017 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that opting for plant-based meals a few times a week reduces the three main cholesterol markers for cardiovascular disease by about five percent. A 2012 study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that coffee consumption can also reduce the risk of heart failure.

The new report points to the importance of sleep – seven hours per night at least – for optimal cardiovascular health. One study published earlier this year indicated that people with no genetic predisposition for heart disease who sleep less than six hours a night are 27 percent more likely to develop arterial plaque buildup than those who sleep between seven and eight hours a night.

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