The American Heart Association (AHA) has been dispensing questionable advice for far too long, yet they continuously expect their public health initiatives to be a true success. And this latest flop is a real embarrassment, even for them.
To absolutely no one’s surprise—or at least, not mine—an AHA program called “Life’s Simple 7” (LS7), which they launched back in 2010 to boost the heart health of the American public, has failed miserably.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here. In case you didn’t know what this LS7 program is (and I surely didn’t), allow me to offer a little background…
Missing the mark, seven times over
The AHA put this strategy together as part of its “Impact Goal” for the year 2020 and beyond. The idea was to boost cardiovascular outcomes and minimize risk, using seven different health metrics: smoking, diet, physical activity, body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
And there’s not much to argue with there. As I reminded you yesterday, lifestyle really is the simplest secret to good health. Hit all of these marks, and you’ll slash your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease, even cancer—it’s a true seven-step pathway to total health.
As a ten-year goal, the AHA aimed to cut the burden of heart disease and stroke by 20 percent. And to increase overall heart health in the American public by the same amount. Which is a perfectly achievable target.
But, well… let’s just say that they haven’t quite hit their mark.
As part of a recent analysis, researchers looked at all of the LS7 variables in more than 32,000 participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) program between 1999 and 2016. And their findings were discouraging, to say the least.
On a scale of zero to 14—with 14 points connoting ideal health—average scores came in at less than half of what they should be. And over an 18-year period that ended in 2016, results showed that the overall health status of Americans has actually declined dramatically—especially among older adults.
In fact, people over age 45 had a mere ten percent likelihood of achieving an ideal LS7 score.
I’m sorry, but that’s just appalling. I know how much effort it takes to eat right and exercise consistently. But if I can manage it, then surely more than one in ten people in my age group can do the same.
Statistics slip from bad to worse
Demographics made a difference in this analysis—ultimately, LS7 scores were higher among participants who were non-Hispanic white females. Such participants were also better educated and wealthier. (A finding that certainly speaks to the disheartening but predictable disparities in access to health and wellness resources in this country.)
That said, people with health insurance didn’t score any better than the uninsured—probably because insurance coverage doesn’t actually do much to address prevention. Because you don’t need a doctor to address most of these factors on your own.
Provided, of course, that you have the right information. And if you want my humble opinion, this is where the AHA consistently drops the ball. When they’re not just plain wrong on everything from diet to blood pressure, they offer too little, too late on pretty much every front.
In fact, the most discouraging finding in this latest study was that, in the five years before the AHA launched the LS7 program, people were actually doing better at keeping their cardiovascular risk factors in check.
Ultimately, not a single group ended up with optimal LS7 scores thanks to the AHA’s efforts… or with a reduction in risk factors over time. There were fewer people smoking, and that’s about it.
If this isn’t a wakeup call, I don’t know what is. Americans clearly need a kick in the caboose to get off their couches—and back into their own kitchens, cooking truly healthy food.
Because if we don’t start focusing more on prevention—among older adults and children, who are more likely to stick with healthy habits that they form when they’re young—the outlook is only going to get worse.
High-quality public programs could absolutely turn this trend around. The AHA just wouldn’t know sound advice from a hole in the ground, despite being the nation’s top authority on the matter.
But while they might be short on worthwhile recommendations, I’m certainly not. In fact, my Ultimate Heart-Protection Protocol covers all the bases in improving your cardiovascular health. This innovative, online protocol is your go-to, one-stop source for all the right supplements, exercises, foods, lifestyle interventions, and medical recommendations for a stronger heart and a longer life. To learn more about this life-changing learning tool, or to sign up today, click here now.
“Life’s Simple 7: Not Simple at All?” Medscape Medical News, 09/10/19. (medscape.com/viewarticle/918040)