Study: 4 in 5 Americans lack optimal heart health

Only about 20% of Americans have “optimal” heart health, according to a recently published American Heart Association (AHA) study of more than 23,000 U.S. adults and children.

UW Medicine Heart Institute cardiologist Dr. Ruchi Kapoor worries that the heart health lingers under the radar of people’s concerns. “I think people don't realize that it's still the number one killer in the United States,” she said. “Millions of people are affected by heart attacks, by stroke, heart failure, valve disease – and about 70% of that is avoidable, depending on your risk factors and lifestyles.”

Kapoor recommends the AHA's “Life’s Essential 8” checklist as an optimal guide to improving heart health. She explains how to address each of the eight measures in an embeddable social media video available for download.

“The best way to get started is just to take a step,” she said. “Whether it's outside, if you have a nice place to take a walk in your neighborhood … or if you can't, then just take a step inside your home. If you have stairs at your home, you can go up and down those stairs to build up your resilience and your strength.”

Sleep is the latest consideration to be included in the AHA's guidance; this year, the association added the recommendation of seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults.

The AHA is hosting the 2022 Puget Sound Heart & Stroke Walk, with events in Seattle on Oct. 8 and Tacoma on Oct. 15.

Download broadcast-ready soundbites featuring Kapoor discussing heart health.

UW Medicine