Status of cardiovascular health in US adults: Prevalence Estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2003-2008

Christina M. Shay*, Hongyan Ning, Norrina B. Allen, Mercedes R. Carnethon, Stephanie E. Chiuve, Kurt J. Greenlund, Martha L. Daviglus, Donald M. Lloyd-Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


Background-: The American Heart Associations 2020 Strategic Impact Goals define a new concept, cardiovascular (CV) health; however, current prevalence estimates of the status of CV health in US adults according to age, sex, and race/ethnicity have not been published. Methods and Results-: We included 14 515 adults (20 years of age) from the 2003 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Participants were stratified by young (20-39 years), middle (40-64 years), and older (65 years) ages. CV health behaviors (diet, physical activity, body mass index, smoking) and CV health factors (blood pressure, total cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, smoking) were defined as poor, intermediate, or ideal. Fewer than 1% of adults exhibited ideal CV health for all 7 metrics. For CV health behaviors, nonsmoking was most prevalent (range, 60.2%-90.4%), whereas ideal Healthy Diet Score was least prevalent (range, 0.2%-2.6%) across groups. Prevalences of ideal body mass index (range, 36.5%-45.3%) and ideal physical activity levels (range, 50.2%-58.8%) were higher in young adults compared with middle or older ages. Ideal total cholesterol (range, 23.7%-36.2%), blood pressure (range, 11.9%-16.3%), and fasting blood glucose (range, 31.2%-42.9%) were lower in older adults compared with young and middle-aged adults. Prevalence of poor CV health factors was lowest in young age but higher at middle and older ages. Prevalence estimates by age and sex were consistent across race/ethnic groups. Conclusions-: These prevalence estimates of CV health represent a starting point from which effectiveness of efforts to promote CV health and prevent CV disease can be monitored and compared in US adult populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-56
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2012


  • cardiovascular diseases
  • diet
  • epidemiology
  • obesity
  • risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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