LOS ANGELES - Nearly half of all adult Americans have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, all conditions that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday.

One in eight Americans has at least two of the conditions and one in 33 has all three, sharply increasing their risk. Of those with at least one condition, 15 percent have not been diagnosed, according to the report released online.

"The number that really surprises me is the penetration of these conditions into the U.S. population," said Dr. Clyde Yancy of Baylor University Medical Center, president of the American Heart Association. "When that number is nearly 50 percent, that's a huge wake-up call." It means there are a large number of people "who think they are healthy . . . but are working under a terrible misconception," he said.

Though researchers should be able to use the new data to plan interventions, "the main thing here is for people to be aware that they have these conditions and know that lifestyle modifications and medications can control them and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease," said epidemiologist Cheryl D. Fryar of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, one of the study's authors.

African-Americans as a group had the highest proportion of hypertension, while whites were more likely to have high cholesterol and Mexican-Americans were more likely to have diabetes, the researchers found. The greatest disparity was in hypertension, where 42.5 percent of blacks had the condition, compared with 29 percent of whites and 26 percent of Mexican-Americans.

The data come from the ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which releases new figures every two years.

Latest videos

Newsday LogoCovering LI news as it happensDigital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months