Life’s Simple 7

The American Heart Association gauges the cardiovascular health of the nation by tracking seven key health factors and behaviors that increase risks for heart disease and stroke. These are called “Life’s Simple 7” and they are measured to track progress toward the AHA’s 2020 Impact Goal: to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent and reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent, by the year 2020. Life’s Simple 7 are: not smoking, physical activity, healthy diet, body weight, and control of cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Here is a key fact related to each of these factors:

Smoking: 18 percent of students grades 9-12 report being current smokers. One in five nonsmokers between ages 12 and 17 is likely to start smoking.

Physical activity: About one in every three U.S. adults – 30 percent – reports participating in no leisure time physical activity.

Healthy diet: Less than 1 percent of U.S. adults meet the American Heart Association’s definition for “Ideal Healthy Diet.” Essentially no children meet the definition. Of the 5 components of a healthy diet, reducing sodium and increasing whole grains are the biggest challenges.

Overweight/obesity: Most Americans older than 20 are overweight or obese. About 155 million U.S. adults – or about 68 percent – are overweight or obese.

Cholesterol: About 43 percent of Americans have total cholesterol of 200 or higher.

High blood pressure: About 69 percent of people who have a first heart attack, 77 percent of people who have a first stroke and 74 percent who have congestive heart failure have blood pressure higher than 140/90.

Blood sugar/diabetes: About 20 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes. That’s slightly more than 8 percent of the adult population, but diabetes rates are growing. In fact, about 38 percent of Americans have prediabetes.

Source: American Heart Association