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Cardiovascular Health Poorer in Army Personnel Than Civilians

Prevalence of ideal blood pressure lower in U.S. Army personnel versus NHANES respondents

female soldier

THURSDAY, June 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer U.S. Army personnel have ideal cardiovascular health (CVH) compared with their peers in the civilian population, according to a study published online June 5 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Alice Shrestha, M.P.H., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues compared four CVH metrics between Army and civilian groups in a cohort of 263,430 active-duty U.S. Army personnel ages 17 to 64 years and a corresponding subset of the noninstitutionalized, civilian U.S. population who participated in the 2011 to 2012 cycle of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The researchers found that smoking rates were about 20 percent in both groups, but less than 15 percent among Army women and Hispanics. Ideal body mass index was observed in one-third of Army and NHANES groups and NHANES women and in nearly half of Army women. Compared with NHANES participants, ideal blood pressure was less prevalent in Army participants (30 versus 55 percent). In both groups, diabetes was rare. Overall, the proportion of Army participants who met ideal criteria on three or more CVH metrics was smaller than that of NHANES participants (32.4 versus 37.0 percent).

"Overall, ideal CVH in the Army is less prevalent than in the civilian population," the authors write. "This finding is surprising given the Army's selective health screening at entry, as well as the Army's policy commitment to physical and psychological fitness."

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