Nearly 69 million, or three out of four, U.S. adults have a “heart age” that is older than their chronological age, resulting in a higher risk for heart attacks and stroke, according to a Vital Signs report issued September 1 by the CDC. 


Researchers at the CDC analyzed data on U.S. adults aged 30 years to 74 years and information from the Framingham Heart Study. The average heart age for men was 8 years higher than their chronological age, compared with 5 years higher for women. They found that heart age was greater than chronological age among all race or ethnic groups, but it was highest among African-American men and women (average of 11 years older for both). Among all study subjects, older ages for the heart increased with chronological ages and decreased with greater education and household income. The researchers also observed geographic trends in average heart age, finding adults in the South had higher heart ages. 


Health care providers can use calculators available online (see http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/cardiovasculardisease/heartage.html) to assess cardiovascular risk and determine heart age in their patients. The risks that are assessed include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and obesity. Heart age can be improved by quitting smoking or lowering blood pressure through eating a healthier diet, taking medication, or exercising more, according to the CDC.