Residents of The Centennial State may hold the secret to living a long, healthy life.
A new analysis found that Coloradans top the list for people with the best heart health because the state has the lowest obesity rate in the U.S. and ranks first for the most physically active people.
It also has the fewest residents with high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease, and the lowest death rate from heart disease.
Forbes’ health analysis found that Colorado had a perfect heart health score of 100 based on 16 health and lifestyle factors, including diet, smoking, drinking, exercise, sleep and hours worked.
At the bottom of the list, the state with the unhealthiest hearts (with a score of zero) was Arkansas, home to the most Americans who smoke every day, as well as sky-high obesity rates.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing 695,000 people and costing $240 billion a year, and nearly half of Americans are affected by some form of cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. and Disease Prevention.
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For the analysis, Forbes analyzed data from multiple government and health databases for 16 metrics, including hours worked per month, fruit and vegetable consumption, sleep habits, alcohol consumption, smoking rates, obesity rates and death rates from stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease.
The research included approximately 800 data points.
Coloradans ranked high in heart health thanks to their diets: 81 percent of people in the state reported consuming vegetables at least once a day and light alcohol consumption; only eight percent of residents said they drink heavily.
Additionally, the state has the lowest percentage of people with high blood pressure (25 percent) and the fourth-lowest rate of deaths from heart disease.
Colorado is also home to the lowest percentage of people classified as obese: 25 percent, compared to the national average of 42 percent.
And it has the highest percentage of people who reported exercising at least once in the past month: 84 percent.
The association between physical activity and healthy hearts was observed throughout the analysis.
Of the 10 most active states, five also ranked among the 10 most heart-healthy states overall.
And the five most active were located in the western United States, where there are fewer densely populated cities and residents have more access to outdoor activities.
The above shows the heart disease death rate by county in the United States from 2018 to 2020.
Behind Colorado was Massachusetts with a score of 99, New Hampshire and Utah were tied at 96 points and Connecticut was close behind with a score of 94.
Massachusetts scored highly thanks to having the lowest rate of people dying from strokes and having the second-lowest prevalence of smoking, which is a known factor causing heart disease.
New Hampshire residents can thank their plant-rich diets for their healthy hearts and balanced work schedules.
The state ranked fourth lowest in average number of hours worked per month (37), which can be used as an indication of stress levels.
The state also has the nation’s lowest rate of deaths related to high blood pressure.
Utahns’ active lifestyles and higher rate of never smokers helped the state earn its highest score. Residents there also ranked third among people who reported being heavy drinkers.
Connecticut’s score could be due to its fifth-lowest rate of deaths from stroke and heart disease.
Arkansas came in last with a score of zero.
The state scored low because it has the highest rate of death from coronary heart disease and has the second-highest number of residents who smoke every day.
Following Arkansas were four other southern states: Mississippi scored three points, Tennessee scored seven, Louisiana scored a 10, and West Virginia ranked 46th of the 50 states with a score of 13.
Mississippi followed for having the lowest percentage of residents who exercise and the second-highest heart disease death rate in the US.
Tennessee came away with just seven points because its residents work the third-highest number of hours per month (42) and have the third-highest prevalence of people who smoke every day.
Louisiana ranked 47th for its residents’ unhealthy diets, with the second-fewest people eating fruit every day and the lowest percentage of people eating vegetables every day.
West Virginia rounds out the bottom five because it has the second-highest level of people with high cholesterol and the second-highest rate of death from coronary heart disease.
Some form of cardiovascular disease affects about half of Americans: approximately 127 million people.
Risk factors include obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and family history of heart disease.