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While a higher risk of heart disease can be inherited, the American Heart Association has always maintained that healthy changes in lifestyle can often outweigh even these genetic tendencies.
In 2010, the Association created Life’s Simple 7, which defined ideal cardiovascular health according to seven risk factors that are modifiable through lifestyle changes.
In June of this year, the AHA introduced Life’s Essential 8, the updated version of Life’s Simple 7. It adds sleep as an eighth lifestyle factor, along with other updates.
The first study using this new, more precise tool has just been completed, and it’s resulted in some alarming statistics regarding America’s heart health…
Only 1 in 5 people in the U.S. has optimal heart health
Using the new guidelines, health information gathered from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys on more than 13,500 adults (ages 20-79 years) and nearly 9,900 children was evaluated.
Cardiovascular health was scored in eight areas, or metrics:
- Physical activity
- Nicotine exposure
- Sleep duration
- Body mass index (BMI)
- Blood lipids
- Blood glucose
- Blood pressure
Overall, scores below fifty indicated “low” cardiovascular health, with 50 to 79 considered “moderate” and 80 or above indicating “high” cardiovascular health. 100 was the highest (and healthiest) possible score.
They found that cardiovascular health among Americans is well below ideal…
- The average adult cardiovascular health score on Life’s Essential 8 was 64.7.
- Only 0.45 percent of adults scored 100 on Life’s Essential 8
- 19.6 percent of U.S. adults had high cardiovascular health, 62.5 percent moderate and 17.9 percent low.
- Women scored higher than men, but both were considered only moderate.
- U.S. adults scored lowest in the areas of diet, physical activity and BMI.
- Non-Hispanic Asian Americans had a higher average cardiovascular health score than other racial/ethnic groups. Non-Hispanic White individuals had the second highest average cardiovascular health score, followed, in order, by Hispanic (other than Mexican), Mexican, and Non-Hispanic Black individuals.
“Overall, the cardiovascular health of the U.S. population is suboptimal, and we see important differences across age and sociodemographic groups,” says Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, president of the American Heart Association and chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
Start improving your heart health now
The American Heart Association provides a concise and helpful fact sheet for each of the “essential eight” health factors. These sheets also contain links to other resources like healthy recipes, exercise routines, and resources to help you quit smoking.
You can find links to all of these fact sheets here.
Here are eight suggestions, one from each of the “essential eight,” to help get you started…
Cook at Home: Take control over the nutritional content of your food by learning healthy preparation methods.
Add It Up: Find ways to move more throughout your daily routine, whether it’s at work, on your commute or at home. Every active minute counts toward your goal.
Deal with Urges: Learn your triggers and make a plan to address them. Avoid situations that make you want to smoke or use tobacco until you’re confident that you can handle them.
Move it: Charge your device as far away from your bed as possible.
Control Portions: Learn about portion sizes and how much you might really be eating.
Move More: Physical activity helps improve cholesterol levels.
Manage Weight: Stay at a healthy weight to help prevent, delay or manage diabetes.
Sleep Well: Short sleep (less than 7 hours) and poor-quality sleep are associated with high blood pressure.
In case you hadn’t noticed, these eight areas of heart health overlap. For example, sleeping well helps your blood pressure, and being active (even doing low-intensity exercise) also helps with cholesterol.
This makes it pretty simple to get started. Just pick one of these eight areas, check out the fact sheet, and start making some simple changes that will have a big payoff!
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!
Only 1 in 5 people in the U.S. has optimal heart health — Eureka Alert
Status of Cardiovascular Health in US Adults and Children Using the American Heart Association’s New “Life’s Essential 8” Metrics: Prevalence Estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2013-2018 — Circulation
Life’s Essential 8™ — American Heart Association
American Heart Association Debuts Life’s Essential 8, Adds Sleep to Life’s Simple 7 — Practical Cardiology