Research Article| Volume 62, ISSUE 4, P586-595, April 2022

Age, Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and Income Patterns in Ideal Cardiovascular Health Among Adolescents and Adults in the U.S.

Published:January 07, 2022DOI:


      Ideal cardiovascular health is present in <50% of children and <1% of adults, yet its prevalence from adolescence through adulthood has not been fully evaluated. This study characterizes the association of age with ideal cardiovascular health and compares these associations across sex, race/ethnicity, and SES subgroups.


      This study, conducted in 2020, analyzed adolescents and adults aged 12–79 years from the cross-sectional National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005–2016 (N=38,706). Polynomial models were used to model the association of age with ideal cardiovascular health, defined using the American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7 criteria (scales 0–14, with higher values indicating better cardiovascular health).


      Mean cardiovascular health was lower with increasing age, starting in early adolescence and dropping to a nadir by age 60 years before stabilizing. At age 20 years, only 45% of adults had ideal cardiovascular health (≥5 ideal cardiovascular health metrics), and >50% of adults had poor cardiovascular health (≤2 ideal cardiovascular health metrics) at age 53 years. Women had higher mean cardiovascular health than men in early life but lower mean cardiovascular health from age 60 years onward. Mean cardiovascular health scores were highest for non-Hispanic White and higher-income adults and lowest for non-Hispanic Black and low-income adults across all ages. Mean cardiovascular health scores fell from intermediate to poor levels approximately 30 years earlier for non-Hispanic Black than for non-Hispanic White adults and approximately 35 years earlier for low-income adults than in higher-income adults.


      Cardiovascular health scores are lower with increasing age from early adolescence through adulthood. Race/ethnicity and income disparities in cardiovascular health are observed at young ages and are more profound at older ages.
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