CDC: Texans Have Poor Cardiovascular Profile

Despite having a younger-than-average population, Texas is lagging the nation when it comes to cardiovascular (CV) health, according to a Centers for Disease Control analysis.

About 2.4 percent of Texans are considered to be in “ideal” CV health based on seven criteria established by the Dallas-based American Heart Association (AHA). The U.S. average is 3.3 percent.

“Texas is statistically much worse than the national average,” said Clyde Yancy, MD, chief of cardiology at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago and AHA spokesman.

On the other hand, 10.4 percent of Texans were considered in poor cardiovascular health because they met two or fewer of the heart-healthy criteria. The national rate was 9.9 percent.

Based on the 2010 census, the U.S. median age is 37.2 years old, compared with 33.6 years old in Texas.

The results were reported online in the current edition of the Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers used data from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System – a telephone survey of more than 350,000 people in every state. They examine the AHA’s seven major heart-health factors: blood pressure, total cholesterol, smoking, body mass index, diabetes, physical activity, and fruit and vegetable consumption. The analysis is the first time cardiovascular health has been assessed at the state level.

Texans achieved an average of 4.3 heart-healthy behaviors, below the national average more than 4.4. Lone Star State residents scored above the national median on smoking and healthy diet, but below the median in diabetes, cholesterol, physical activity, body mass index and hypertension.

The AHA has established a goal of improving CV health by 20 percent and reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent by the year 2020. The AHA previously set a 2010 goal of reducing congestive heart disease and stroke death rates by 25 percent, using the 1999 as a baseline rate. The result: a 30 percent reduction.

About 1 out of 3 U.S. adults has at least one form of CV disease, which is an underlying cause of about one-third of American deaths. However, there has been a substantial reduction in CV deaths over the past four decades. About half of the of the reduction in coronary heart disease between 1980 and 2000 has been credited to a reduction in risk factors such as cholesterol and high blood pressure, as well as improved health behaviors such as tobacco cessation and healthier diets.

However, the researchers said the tiny percentage of those meeting the AHA criteria has remained virtually unchanged for the past 20 years. Predictably, those 65 and older had the lowest percentage of ideal CV health and the highest percentage of poor CV health. Those 35 to 54 years old had the highest percentage of ideal CV health.

Yancy said, for those older than 50 who have ideal CV health, “their longevity is measured into the 90s, and when illnesses do develop those illnesses are compressed into the latter months of life. In brief, achieving ideal CV health by middle age generates another 4 decades of health. Fewer Texans can look forward to such an outcome given the very low threshold of ideal CV health at present. ”

Steve Jacob is editor of D Healthcare Daily and author of Health Care in 2020: Where Uncertain Reform, Bad Habits, Too Few Doctors and Skyrocketing Costs Are Taking Us. He can be reached at

  • Eduardo Sanchez

    A tale of two problems, Texans’ poor CV disease profile and NorthTexans’ poor diabetes profile, should have us each rethink our New Year’s resoulutions. Healthy eating, physical activity, and healthy weight help prevent, at best, or delay, at worst, the onset of heart disease and diabetes. Normal blood pressure control, healthy cholesterol levels, and normal blood glucose are key to good health and to managing diabetes and heart disease once they are diagnosed. Avoiding tobacco is just good common sense. Each of us can help move the percent up for ideal CV health in Texas and at the same time improve our metabolic health in North Texas by resolving to achieve 7 in 2013.