NEW YORK — What is heart health?
If you ask a person about heart disease and they have no clue what that means, they might think it’s a virus or something from another part of the body.
But a new study in the journal The Lancet is raising new questions about how to accurately define heart disease.
A large, international study from the University of California, Irvine, found that, to be defined as a heart disease by the American Heart Association (AHA), a person must have at least one of the following: • A history of heart disease in the past three years • Not having a normal heart rhythm • Having high blood pressure or diabetes in the previous five years The study used data from the AHA’s annual survey of health professionals to determine the prevalence of heart diseases in the U.S. and how much the health profession needs to know about it.
The American Heart Institute (AHI), the nation’s leading medical research organization, has said it is not a credible source for its definitions of heart health, saying that the AHI relies on the American College of Cardiology (ACCC), a group of experts that are independent from the scientific community.
“ACCC has been publishing Heart Study Reports (HSRs) since 1996 and we consider the AHS as authoritative,” said David Beresford, AHI’s director of public affairs.
It’s an important distinction, he added, because a HSR is only a summary of a person’s symptoms, which the AHIs does not.
“If someone has symptoms of heart attack or is experiencing any other heart health condition, they are more likely to have a heart attack than someone who has not,” he said.
The new study found that the number of Americans who have symptoms of high blood pressures, diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood sugar (HbA1c) was almost double the number that have heart disease symptoms, from 8.4% in 2000 to 16.2% in 2015.
The authors of the new study, from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a nonprofit research and public health organization based in Bethesda, Maryland, also noted that a person may have both high blood and low blood pressure.
That could mean that they have a condition called high pressure, high blood sugars, high triglycerides, high levels of HbA 1c, high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol.
“High blood pressure is a key predictor of heart failure,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. James G. Condon, a cardiac and cardiology researcher at the University College London in England.
In addition, the number who have high blood lipids and high blood triglycerides may also indicate a more serious condition, such as high blood vessel disease, Condon said.
High blood sugar and high levels are also closely associated with stroke.
In a stroke study published last year in The Lancet, researchers found that a high blood glucose level, particularly during the first few days after a stroke, may lead to an increased risk of death.
The study’s authors said their study did not prove that high blood cholesterol or HbCIs caused heart disease or heart attacks.
However, it did show that the prevalence in the general population is much higher than what would be expected from people who do not have the disease.
“We know from previous studies that the population does not always have high cholesterol levels,” Condon told ABC News.
He said it’s important to note that the American Society of Cardiologists (ASCO) recommends that people with elevated blood cholesterol and high Hb levels not have a history of high cholesterol and Hb.
The ASCO did not comment on the new research, but said in a statement: “The scientific evidence on high cholesterol is robust, and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends lowering blood cholesterol levels in patients with diabetes and heart disease.”
High blood glucose levels are linked to many diseases, including obesity, hypertension and stroke, and many of the people who are overweight have a high Hg level.
“If people are trying to lower cholesterol levels, it’s also important to understand that diabetes and hypertension are linked with increased risk for developing heart disease,” Cordon said.
Dr. Daniel Hsu, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Stanford University, said that in his experience, people who have heart attacks or strokes have symptoms similar to those of heart pain and are treated with medication to control their symptoms.
But it’s not clear how that medication will be effective.
People often are prescribed medication for other health problems that they don’t have, such in the case of heart attacks, he said, noting that medications for people with heart disease often have side effects such as weight gain.
Condon said he thinks that people are going to have to learn how to better define heart health