September 14, 2009 / 8:30 PM / 9 years ago

Only 10 percent of U.S. adults have low heart risk

A man walks past the New York Stock Exchange after trading hours in New York August 17, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ninety percent of American adults have at least one risk factor for heart disease, researchers reported on Monday.

Virtually all Americans either have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, are overweight, smoke or exercise too little, the team led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

“Unfortunately, the limited strides that were made toward this goal during the 1970s and 1980s were eroded by the increases in excess weight, diabetes and hypertension during more recent decades,” the CDC’s Dr. Earl Ford, who led the study, said in a statement.

Ford’s team looked at four national studies covering tens of thousands of Americans aged 25 to 74.

Only 10 percent had low risk scores in all five categories, they reported in the journal Circulation.

“Until the early 90s, we were moving in a positive direction, but then it took a turn and we’re headed in a negative direction,” said Ford.

“When you look at the individual factors, tobacco use is still headed in the right direction and so are cholesterol levels, although that has leveled off. The problem is that blood pressure, BMI (body mass index, a measure of obesity) and diabetes are all headed in the wrong direction.”

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States and many other countries.

Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Eric Walsh

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