A new study that takes a complete snapshot of adolescent cardiovascular health in the United States reveals a dismal picture of teens likely to die of heart disease at a younger age than adults do today, reports Northwestern Medicine research.
“We are all born with ideal cardiovascular health, but right now we are looking at the loss of that health in youth,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, chair and associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Their future is bleak.”
The effect of this worsening teen health is already being seen in young adults. For the first time, there is an increase in cardiovascular mortality rates in younger adults ages 35 to 44, particularly women, Lloyd-Jones said.
The alarming health profiles of 5,547 children and adolescents, ages 12 to 19, reveal many have high blood sugar levels, are obese or overweight, have a lousy diet, don’t get enough physical activity and even smoke, the new study reports. These youth are a representative sample of 33.1 million U.S. children and adolescents from the 2003 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.
“What was most alarming about the findings of this study is that zero children or adolescents surveyed met the criteria for ideal cardiovascular health,” said Christina Shay, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. “These data indicate ideal cardiovascular health is being lost as early as, if not earlier than the teenage years.”