Americans associate good health with lifestyle behaviors, but overlook key Vital Health measures

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) today released results from the inaugural Vital Health Report, which demonstrate that Americans associate good health with lifestyle behaviors and habits, but overlook their key Vital Health measures (e.g. cholesterol, body mass index, blood pressure, disease screenings), some of the true indicators of overall health. The report further reveals that Americans believe they know more about their Vital Health than they actually do.

"Every day in hospitals and health centers across the country, anesthesiologists see how the Vital Health of patients directly and profoundly affects surgical outcomes and long-term well-being," said John Dombrowski, M.D., American Society of Anesthesiologists. "As the physicians responsible for safeguarding the health of patients when it matters most, we are urging all Americans to improve their Vital Health by monitoring Vital Health measures, which play a key role in their overall wellness and positive medical outcomes."

The Vital Health Report is based on a survey of over 1,000 Americans that examined their knowledge, attitudes, awareness and behaviors associated with health and wellness. Vital Health is defined as how effectively a person maintains a healthy lifestyle, including the monitoring of his or her vital measures, and how that impacts wellness and positive medical outcomes. Key findings from the survey include:

Vital Health Measures Are Overlooked
While respondents overwhelmingly associate good health with daily habits, they overlook underlying Vital Health measures (such as cholesterol, body mass index, blood pressure and disease screenings) that are some of the key indicators of Vital Health.
•Nearly half of respondents most associate Vital Health with healthy behaviors while only 27 percent associate it with blood pressure. Less than 15 percent associate Vital Health with such key measures as heart rate, cholesterol level and respiration. More than one-third of respondents only "sometimes" ask their physicians for specific medical results, while 7 percent never ask.
•Nearly 70 percent of respondents say they had their cholesterol checked this past year, but one-third of them don't know their actual cholesterol level. Almost 40 percent of those 18-35 years old say they have never had their cholesterol checked.
•Half of respondents don't know their body mass index.

Vital Health Is Not Protected
There is a gap between what people know they should do and what they actually do to protect their Vital Health.
•Respondents believe that exercising at least three times each week has the most positive effect on Vital Health, but only slightly more than half say they consistently work out.
•Furthermore, they rank maintaining a healthy diet as the second most important factor, yet less than half say that they actually do this.

Personal Health Perceptions Vary Widely by Demographic Group
Respondents over the age of 65, as well as those within high-income households, more frequently evaluate themselves as healthy.
•One out of 10 respondents over the age of 65 say they believe they are "extremely healthy," while only 4 percent of 35-49 year-olds say they believe they are.
•On average, 82 percent of respondents within high-income households ($125,000+) say they believe they are healthy compared to 71 percent of respondents who earn less.

"When patients have surgery, it is a vulnerable time for them, physically, emotionally and sometimes financially," said Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., ASA member and author of Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals. "Yet, some simple personal health measures, such as whether you smoke or have high blood pressure, strongly predict the level of risk for complications that you will have going through surgery. The American Society of Anesthesiologists' new program, Vital Health, helps patients assess and hopefully minimize these risks, ensuring that patients thrive when they have surgery."

An Opportunity to Improve Your Vital Health
The ASA encourages Americans to take the first step toward improving their Vital Health by going to and using the Know Your Vital Health Tool. After answering a series of health-related questions, patients will receive a customized, anonymous report of health and wellness information and suggestions.

Please visit for more information about the Vital Health Report and to use the Know Your Vital Health Tool.

Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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