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Poor Habits Slow Progress in Fight Against Heart Disease

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(Image credit: <a href="">Heart rate</a> via Shutterstock)

America's progress in the fight against heart disease could be slowed by unhealthy habits, according to a new report.

The American Heart Association's current goal is to reduce the rate of death from heart disease by 20 percent by 2020, but if current trends continue, the rate may improve only by 6 percent, the AHA said in its report.

Between 1999 and 2009, the rate fell about 33 percent, the AHA noted.

Although rates of smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are expected to decline, these improvements may be offset by increases in obesity and diabetes, coupled with only small changes in diet and exercise, the report said.

"Americans need to move a lot more, eat healthier and less, and manage risk factors as soon as they develop,” said Dr. Alan Go, chairman of the report's writing committee. “If not, we’ll quickly lose the momentum we’ve gained in reducing heart attack and stroke rates and improving survival over the last few decades." In 2009, cardiovascular disease accounted for about one in three deaths in the U.S.

Currently, 68.2 percent of adults are overweight, and more adults are obesethan are either normal weight or underweight (34.6 percent compared with 31.8 percent), the report said. Twenty-two percent of adults do not exercise at all. Among high school students, 17 percent of girls and 10 percent of boys said they exercised for less than an hour during the past week.

The AHA said it is working to help build healthier communities by improving access to healthy foods and parks.

Pass it on:Increases in obesity and diabetes could slow the progress that's been made in improving heart health.

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