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Americans Practicing Heart Disease Prevention—Good News and Bad News

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: April 4, 2007

Most Americans engage in behaviors that can help prevent or delay the onset of heart disease, according to the latest News and Numbers summary from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The good news is that more than 93 percent of adults surveyed by AHRQ in 2004 reportedly engaged in at least one of the three heart-healthy behaviors recommended by the American Heart Association—not smoking, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. Specifically:

  • More than half of those surveyed (56 percent) said they engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity three times a week.
  • More than three-quarters (78 percent) reported they currently did not smoke.
  • More than one-third (39 percent) reported their body mass index (BMI) to be under 25, the threshold above which a person is considered to be overweight or obese.

The bad news is that just 18 percent of adults reported practicing all three heart-healthy behaviors. Approximately 42 percent of those surveyed said they practiced two behaviors, and 34 percent practiced only just behavior.

  • Some 6.5 percent of adults do not engage in any of the healthy behaviors.
  • More than 18 percent of adults advised by a doctor that they had indicators of heart disease continued to smoke.

AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to enhance the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), the nation's most complete survey of how Americans use and pay for health care, including their health insurance coverage.

For more information on this AHRQ News and Numbers summary, access Personal Health Behaviors for Heart Disease Prevention among the Adult U.S. Noninstitutionalized Population, 2004, MEPS Statistical Brief No. 165 (PDF Help).

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of April 2007.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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