Over 70% of American children have poor heart health

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Under 30% of American children had high cardiovascular health scores.

This is the first study in the United States to measure cardiovascular health using the new American Heart Association criteria and scoring.

Most children and adolescents in the United States have poor cardiovascular health (CVH) scores, according to the first study that uses the American Heart Association’s new “Life’s Essential 8” indicators and methodology to assess levels of cardiovascular health in adults and children. ). Overall, less than 30% of children aged 2 to 19 years had high CVH.

The number of children with high CVH decreased significantly with age: 56% of 2–5 year olds had high CVH, compared with 33% of 6–11 year olds and 14% of 12–19 year olds. The study was published in the journal Circulation.

“We found that among U.S. children, the results were lowest for the dietary measure, which was comparable to what we saw in adults,” said senior author Amanda Marma Perak, MD, a cardiologist at Ann & Robert H Children’s Hospital. Lurie in Chicago and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“Individuals and families who improve their dietary patterns can significantly improve their overall cardiovascular health, even independent of weight change. In addition to the efforts of families to improve, we also need support at the political level for better diets, such as subsidies for the production of fruit and vegetables or more readily available healthy foods and removing sugary drink options in schools.

The revised definition of CVH includes eight components: sleep duration, a new measure, as well as modified versions of the previous seven measures: diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, BMI, blood lipids, blood glucose, and blood pressure. The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 2013 to 2018 for their investigation. There were 13,521 adult participants and 9,888 child participants, representing more than 201 million people and 74 million children in the United States.

Only three CVH measures (diet, physical activity, and BMI) were available in NHANES for all children aged 2 to 19 years. As age increased, other measurements were added: lipids at 6 years, blood pressure at 8 years, nicotine and glucose at 12 years, and sleep at 16 years.

“Maintaining better cardiovascular health at all ages is associated with extremely favorable health outcomes,” said Dr. Marma Perak, who was a pediatric expert for the simultaneously published American Heart Association President’s Council, which redefined the concept of CVH through the new indicators.

“Children with high CVH have less burden of subclinical cardiovascular disease in mid-life. And for children who manage to maintain a high CVH into late adolescence or young adulthood, their risk of premature clinical cardiovascular disease over the next 30 years is extremely low. Ultimately, the new CVH measures will allow clinicians and scientists to track changes with greater accuracy so they can intervene earlier and set children on a healthier path to adulthood.

Reference: “Cardiovascular Health Status of US Adults and Children Using the New American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 Indicators: Prevalence Estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2013-2018.” by Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, Hongyan Ning, Darwin Labart, LaPrincess Brewer, Garima Sharma, Wayne Rosamond, Randy E. Foraker, Terry Black, Michael A. Grandner, Norina B. Allen, Cheryl Anderson, Helen Lavretsky, and Amanda M. .Perak, 29 June 2022, Circulation.
DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.122.060911

Research at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute.

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