Ideal Cardiovascular Health Among American Adults After the Economic Recession of 2008-2009: Insights from NHANES

Am J Med. 2019 Oct;132(10):1182-1190.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2019.06.004. Epub 2019 Jul 3.


Background: The economic recession of 2008-2009 resulted in unprecedented employment and economic losses leading to deterioration of cardiovascular health. We examined the trends in ideal cardiovascular health as measured by the American Heart Association's (AHA's) Life's Simple 7 metric during the periods of economic recession and subsequent economic recovery.

Methods: Data on adults ages ≥20 years from the NHANES from economic-recession (2007-2010) and post-recession (2011-2016) periods was analyzed. The AHA's Life's Simple 7 score of 10-14 was used to classify ideal cardiovascular health status. Socioeconomic status was divided into 3 categories: high, middle, and low based on education and income status. Multivariable linear and logistic regression models including demographics, insurance status, health care access, and adjustment for multiple testing were used to analyze the trends in prevalence of ideal cardiovascular health across socioeconomic strata.

Results: We observed a decline in the multivariable-adjusted mean cardiovascular health score from 8.18 in 2007-2010 to 7.94 in 2015-2016 (Plinear = 0.02). This was primarily driven by the increasing prevalence of obesity (34% in 2007-2010 vs 41% in 2015-2016, Plinear = 0.005) and poor fasting glucose (8% in 2007-2010 vs 12% in 2015-2016, Plinear = 0.003). In multivariable-adjusted models, we observed the decreasing prevalence of ideal cardiovascular health with a nonlinear trend in the participants in the highest (51% in 2007-2010 vs 42% in 2015-2016, Pquadratic = 0.01) and lowest socioeconomic strata (16% in 2007-2010 vs 13% in 2015-2016, Pquadratic = 0.02). The prevalence of ideal cardiovascular health was higher in participants with high-socioeconomic status compared with other socioeconomic status participants.

Conclusions: Despite economic recovery, ideal cardiovascular health metrics have not yet recovered. Cardiovascular health appears to be further deteriorating for US adults, particularly those in high- and lower-socioeconomic strata.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Diabetes mellitus; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / economics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / etiology
  • Diet / economics
  • Diet / standards*
  • Economic Recession*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult