1 in 35 in U.S. at High Risk for Heart Disease
Otherwise Healthy Adults Considered at Risk for Heart Disease Within 10 Years
May 19, 2004 -- About one in 35 adult Americans is at high risk
of developing heart disease, meaning that they have a greater than 20% chance
of developing the condition within 10 years. Nearly one in five otherwise
healthy American adults have a 10% or higher risk of developing heart disease
in the next 10 years, according to the new study.
The results appear in the May 19 issue of the Journal of the
American College of Cardiology.
"I hope that these numbers will give clinicians,
researchers, health policy analysts, and others a better idea of how coronary
heart disease is distributed in the U.S. population," says researcher Earl
S. Ford, MD, MPH of the CDC, in a news release.
Estimating Heart Disease Risk
In making their predictions, researchers used data on the
prevalence of heart disease risk factors among nearly 14,000 Americans aged 20
to 79 collected by the CDC in the Third National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey from 1988 to 1994. The survey included information on
cholesterol levels, blood pressure, age, body mass index (BMI), smoking, and
other risk factors.
For people without existing heart disease or diabetes,
- 4 million (2.9%) fell into the high-risk category with a greater than 20%
chance of developing heart disease within 10 years.
- 23 million (15.5%) were considered intermediate risk with a 10%-20% risk of
- 140 million (81.7%) were low risk with a less than 10% risk of developing
The study showed the proportion of adults at high risk for
heart disease within 10 years increased with advancing age and was higher among
men than women. But this risk varied little with race or ethnicity.
Researchers say these estimates are predictions of future risk
based on currently used models and information. But they are not measurements
of how many people actually developed heart disease during a 10-year
Predictions Should Be Call to Action
In an editorial that accompanies the study, Daniel S. Berman,
MD, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and Nathan D. Wong, PhD, of
the University of California, Irvine, say the study shows that "a large
proportion of the U.S. population is at high or intermediate risk."
The editorialists say these predictions should serve as a call
to action to identify those people at high risk and better stratify the risk
for those in the intermediate range of heart disease risk.
They also say the results show the nation should take further
public health and preventive measures to reduce the risk of heart disease
across the U.S.