Think you're young at heart? Think again!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given us a wake up call this week...we might think we're only 40 but our heart tells us we're 45.  And if you're a man, the news is even worse - on average, you're heart age is 48 even though your chronological age is 40.

According to the just released CDC Vital Signs report, 3 out of 4 U.S. adults have a predicted heart age that is older than their actual age. This puts the vast majority of us at higher risk for heart attacks and stroke.  The study looked at Americans ages 30-74 and found that approximately 69 million individuals have a heart age that exceeds his/her chronological age. 

Not surprisingly, your background and socioeconomic status play a role.  Here are some additional key findings:

  • Heart age is highest among African-American men and women (average of 11 years older for both).
  • Heart age increases with age and decreases with greater education and household income.
  • Adults in the Southern U.S. typically have higher heart ages. Utah, Colorado, California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts have the lowest percentage.

Anyone can determine their "heart age" - it's based on risks that include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes status, and body mass index as an indicator for obesity.  CDC even has a nifty calculator in case you want to check it for yourself.

But all is not lost.  Certainly we can work to make changes to our daily routine.  And perhaps more importantly, these findings help us on a population level.  Across the country, reports like this one help make the case for investment in preventive services coverage.  We should also adequately fund chronic disease prevention at the state-level and work to raise awareness across the board. 

Next time we have a birthday, time to think twice about how old we really are.