There is a good chance that your actual heart is much “older” than you are, according to the first study to provide population-level estimates of heart age.

In a report published Tuesday, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that three out of four U.S. adults’ heart age is older than their actual age, putting them at greater risk of heart attack and stroke.

This study is the first to provide population-level estimates of heart age and to highlight disparities in heart age nationwide. Using data collected from all 50 states and information from the large, ongoing Framingham Heart Study, the report showed that heart age varied by race/ethnicity, gender, region and other sociodemographic characteristics.

“Heart age” is the calculated age of a person’s cardiovascular system based on risk factor profile. Risks include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes status and body mass index as an indicator for obesity. The researchers determined that nearly 69 million U.S. adults between the ages of 30 and 74 have a heart age older than their actual age,

The average adult man’s heart is eight years older than his chronological age. For women, it’s five years, according to the study.

Heart age is highest among African-American men and women, with an average age of 11 years older for both. Geographic differences showed that adults in the Southern U.S. typically have higher heart ages. Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Alabama have the highest percentage of adults with a heart age five years or more over their actual age. Meanwhile Utah, Colorado, California, Hawaii and Massachusetts have the lowest percentage.

“Too many U.S. adults have a heart age years older than their real age, increasing their risk of heart disease and stroke,” said CDC director Tom Frieden, M.D. “Everybody deserves to be young – or at least not old – at heart.”

  • Find out your heart age here.