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April 27th, 2010
01:46 PM ET

Heart disease risk heightened in nearly half of Americans

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

Heart disease is America's No. 1 killer, and nearly half of Americans have one or more conditions - hypertension, high cholesterol or diabetes - that puts them at risk, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

One out of eight adults, or 13 percent, have two of these conditions, and 3 percent have all three, the CDC said in its analysis of people over 20 years old from 1999 to 2006. Forty-five percent have at least one of the three.

African American individuals have a greater likelihood of having at least one of these three conditions than non-Hispanic white people and Mexican Americans, the study found. White Americans more commonly have high cholesterol than African Americans and Mexican Americans. As for diabetes, African Americans and Mexican Americans have a higher prevalence than white individuals.

The portion of adults with undiagnosed conditions is significant - more than 15 percent of adults have one or more of the conditions, but had not received a diagnosis. About 8 percent have undiagnosed hypertension, 8 percent have undiagnosed hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), and 3 percent have undiagnosed diabetes, the report said. These proportions were similar across ethnic groups.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Read more about it from the Mayo Clinic Health Library.

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soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Jack

    "Heart disease risk heightened in nearly half of Americans"

    hmm, and more than half of Americans are overweight as well.
    Any connection there?

    April 27, 2010 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Matt

    I fully believe that exercise (or just being more active overall) and healthy eating needs to be pounded into the brains of Americans. From an early age. Devote time every day to running, doing some weight lifting, playing some sports, walking, swimming, hiking, bike riding, etc.! If you view it as an extra task then it's not going to be fun. Unfortunately a lot of Americans seem to have a negative view of exercise and eating healthy. It's really not that bad.

    April 27, 2010 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jay

    Only half? With the horrible diet and exercise (not) we have is is a surprise it isn't higher.

    April 27, 2010 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. David

    I can't agree more with how many are undiagnosed..
    I'm in my early 30's and decided to do things differently with my life. Just thinking that my father was my age at his first stroke is an unpleasant thought. I decided to quit smoking, I'm eating healthy... It's a shame that we, as Americans, take our bodies for granted until something happens to someone close to us.

    April 27, 2010 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sigh

    Likelihood of heart disease has always been due to a combination of causes, genetics and social pressures. Social pressure side of this disease has always been ignored by the medical community. Therefore it stands to reason to hold the medical community responsible for not speaking about this amalgam disease with sufficient needed balance and focus.

    April 28, 2010 at 01:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Axon

    DIET DIET DIET DIET DIET!!!!

    April 28, 2010 at 03:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Daniel T. Johnston, MD, MPH (Iraq Army Surgeon)

    Much of the disese burden from heart disease could be reduced if Americans simply added more Omega-3 EPA/DHA (fish oil from seafood and supplements) to their diet and lowered their Omega-6 intake. This has been shown to reduce heart attacks, death, and stroke while also lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. They also improve mood. I am launching some major initiatives wtihin the US military to do just that for our soldiers here in Iraq. A study recently released estimated that 84,000 lives per year would be saved if more Omega-3 EPA/DHA were consumed in the US.
    Hope this is helpful and happy to write a science based editorial on this if you like.
    Dr Johnston

    April 28, 2010 at 05:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Nimbex

    Put the fork down!

    April 29, 2010 at 01:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Susan Hawkes

    I would like to see some information about the rare, incurable, fatal heart disease called Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. I understand it occurs mostly in women and goes undiagnosed for years because its symptoms are so similar to those presented by other conditions. Apparently the problem is an increased resistance to blood coming from the heart to the capillaries in the lungs that transfer oxygen to the blood for use by the rest of the body. This increased resistance causes the heart to wear itself out pumping. How the increase in capillary thickness exactly happens and how it can be stopped is unknown. I bet this syndrome causes many more "heart disease" deaths than is recorded.
    Thanks,
    Susan

    April 30, 2010 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Uwe Diegel

    The clinical importance of the early identification of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) as a manifestation of generalized atherothrombotic disease has been increasingly acknowledged in recent years: the presence of PAD is a powerful predictor of future cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events and of increased mortality.

    Ankle brachial index (ABI) offers a simple and effective method of objectively documenting the functional state of the circulation in the lower limb and thus for the diagnosis of lower extremity PAD.

    However, there are a couple of problems with ABI, the most important being that hardly anybody does the test, especially at the level of the generalist doctor. There is also much confusion in the medical sector about the proper procedure for the measurement of ABI (Ankle Brachial Index).

    When measuring ABI with a Doppler, does one use the tibial posterior artery or the tibial anterior artery? And what about the Dorsalis Pedis? Vascular specialists seem to use the lowest of the 3 readings in their calculations, cardiologists seem to use the highest and GPs use the most convenient one. So what is the correct procedure? The answer: there is none, it has not yet been really defined. Whilst "better" (better because more PAD are found) results are achieved by using the lowest of the 3 systolics (tibial posterior artery, tibial anterior artery or Dorsalis Pedis), it does not address the main problem, which is that at the moment every GP and cardiologist is doing it differently and that there is thus no parity in the results from one doctor to the next.

    Therein lies the interest in the introduction of an oscillometric system to measure ABI, because even if the oscillometric device measures the highest systolic (between the tibial posterior artery, tibial anterior artery and Dorsalis Pedis), it has one undeniable advantage in that it standardizes the method and makes the measurement of ABI accessible to all doctors. And this is where the big advantage is; At the moment GPs simply don't measure ABI because they either don't have the equipment or they don't have the time. An oscillometric device to measure ABI makes the measurement of ABI possible in 3 minutes, with very little margin for handling errors and is easy to perform with minimum training. It should be used as a pre-screening tool for the GP. This would have a huge impact on the vascular health of patients as many cases of PAD could be detected before it is too late and the patient has to see a vascular specialist.

    At the moment, if a patient goes to see a vascular specialist or a cardiologist, it is basically too late. If he is seeing such a specialist, it is generally because he is already presenting and exterior symptom such as claudication. If we could use an easy-to-use oscillometric device to do pre-detection of peripheral arterial diseases at the level of the generalist doctor, we could push back many vascular events by years.

    With Best Regards

    Uwe DIEGEL
    Paris

    May 2, 2010 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.