April 26, 2010 -- Nearly half of adults in the United States have chronic conditions that could lead to heart disease, the leading cause of death among American adults, according to a CDC report released Monday.
About 3 percent of adults have all three conditions and 13 percent have two of these conditions, according to the report. Nearly 1 in 7 adults have one or more of these conditions undiagnosed.
"These findings are disturbing and reflect the cumulative effects of the modern American lifestyle," said Dr. Steve E. Nissen, Chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. "If we continue on the same course, this problem will grow progressively worse."
According to experts, the cause of these chronic conditions is related to the purported obesity epidemic that has swept the country over the past few decades.
Nearly 67 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, according to the CDC.
"The toxic environment in which we live with excess access to fast foods does not enable individuals to choose healthy in many situations, so the problem we face is as much a societal issue as it is a medical one," said Dr. Lori Mosca, Director of Preventive Cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
This study is the first conducted by the CDC to look at the impact of blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes together on Americans, said Dr. Rosemarie Hirsch, Chief of the Analysis Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics.
The presence of these chronic conditions is most likely due to the change in diet of many Americans from as early as the 1960s to today, said Hirsch. Diagnoses of diabetes have more than doubled from 1970 to the mid-2000s, according to a study published in February 2009 by the American Diabetes Association.
Although diabetes and other chronic conditions are irreversible, experts said prevention strategies are central to reversing the trend.
"The good news is that even a small amount of weight loss, 5-10 pounds in many cases, can lower blood pressure and also improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels," Mosca said.
Half of U.S. Adults Have Conditions that can Lead to Heart Disease
ABC News Senior Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser offers some tips to prevent conditions that could lead to heart disease.
Be aware. Get your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar checked. If they are elevated, take action. If they are close to being high, check them every year.
Eat no more than you need. If you eat more than your body needs, you pack on pounds. Eat sensibly, and eat slowly. Be mindful of large portion sizes and watch your salt intake. Variety and moderation are key.
Be on the move. Set small goals for yourself -- your first time out the door for a run doesn't have to be a marathon. Make a weekly walking date with a friend and try to stick with it.