Background: Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and in most European countries. Cardiovascular health, as defined by the American Heart Association, is comprised of seven health metrics (smoking, body mass index, physical activity, diet, total cholesterol, blood pressure, and fasting plasma glucose). No studies have compared US data with data collected elsewhere, using this index of cardiovascular health
Methods: We performed comparative analyses of cardiovascular health status in participants from 2 study sites in 2 different countries: the Maine-Syracuse Study, conducted in Central New York, USA in 2001-2006 (n=673), and the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg, conducted in 2007-2009 (n=1145).
Results: The Cardiovascular Health Score, the sum of the total number of metrics at ideal levels, was higher in the Luxembourg site than in the Central New York site. Ideal cardiovascular health levels for body mass index, smoking, physical activity, and diet were more prevalent in the Luxembourg site than the Central New York site. Ideal levels for blood pressure were more prevalent in Central New York. Differences between the two sites remained with control for age, gender and socioeconomic indicators.
Conclusions: Cardiovascular health, as indexed by seven health metrics, was higher in the European study site than in the US study site. The largest differences were for the four lifestyle/behavior metrics, namely body mass index, smoking, physical activity, and diet. Preventative and intervention strategies will continue to be important for both countries in order to improve cardiovascular health.