Heart health Risks of US Young People

Posted on April 10, 2013 - 9:58am

A new study by the American Heart Association has shown that although the majority of clinical CardioVascular Disease (specifically Coronary Artery Disease and Stroke) events occur at middle and older ages, atherosclerosis begins in childhood and cardiovascular health among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years  is alarmingly poor. 

Cardiovascular health in adolescent males by race/ethnicity (aged 12–19 years):

Cardiovascular health in adolescent females by race/ethnicity (aged 12–19 years):

  Shay C M et al. Circulation 2013;127:1369-1376

Particularly noteworthy in the study:

  • More than 80% of adolescent males and females in all race/ethnicity groups were classified as following a poor Healthy Diet
  • Less than 1% of males and females  followed an Ideal Healthy Diet  
  • Only 44% of females and 67% of males reported ideal levels of physical activity 

​Cardiovascular health involves increasing physical activity and improving a healthy diet have been hindered by environmental and societal changes that increase the likelihood of sedentary behavior and consumption of high-calorie, nutrient-sparse foods and beverages, particularly among low-income and minority populations. 

Good Heart Health behavior early in life is essential for maintenance of  a good cardiovascular health throughout the lifespan. Unless dramatic changes in current poor cardiovascular health behaviors (poor diet, insufficient physical activity, smoking exposure) and environmental factors (eg, excess sodium intake)are adapted, this study predicts an increased incidence of premature coronary heart disease as the current US youth reach adulthood. 


Status of Cardiovascular Health in US Adolescents : Prevalence Estimates From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2005 −2010 Christina M. Shay, et al, Circulation. 2013;127:1369-1376