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The American Heart Association has a running list of recommendations on how to achieve optimal heart health.
Known as Life’s Essential 8™, it is a checklist of eight lifestyle behaviors (like exercise) and health factors (like controlling cholesterol) that are key factors for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health.
The first study using this new measurement tool showed that heart health in the United States is less than ideal, with 80 percent scoring at a low or moderate level.
Not great news.
And while it may seem like a no-brainer, another look at what happens when Life’s Essential 8™ is adhered to may offer just the incentive we all need to get serious about our heart health…
A healthy heart can make you six years younger
According to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023, having optimal cardiovascular health may slow the pace of biological aging.
Specifically, a high heart health score appears to slow biological aging and potentially stave off age-related diseases — essentially extending lifespan.
That’s the finding of researchers who took a close look at the association between heart and brain health — as measured by the Life’s Essential 8™ checklist — and the biological aging process.
To start, the researchers compared the chronological (actual) age of each participant with their phenotypic age.
Phenotypic age is a measure of age based on the results of nine blood markers for metabolism, inflammation and organ function, including glucose, C-reactive protein, and creatinine.
They then calculated the subjects’ phenotypic age acceleration — or the difference between one’s phenotypic age and actual age. A higher phenotypic age acceleration indicates faster biological aging.
Participants with the highest cardiovascular health scores were, on average, biologically six years younger than their chronological age.
“We found that higher cardiovascular health is associated with decelerated biological aging, as measured by phenotypic age.
“We also found a dose-dependent association — as heart health goes up, biological aging goes down,” says study senior author Dr. Nour Makarem, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City.
8 steps that can help you age slower
“Greater adherence to all Life’s Essential 8 metrics and improving your cardiovascular health can slow down your body’s aging process and have a lot of benefits down the line. Reduced biologic aging is not just associated with lower risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, it is also associated with longer life and lower risk of death,” Makarem said.
If you’d like to get on board, check out Life’s Essential 8. These key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health consist of health behaviors (HB) and health factors (HF) that are modifiable and if improved, can reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke and other major health problems.
Life’s Essential 8 includes:
- Eat Better (HB)
- Be More Active (HB)
- Quit Tobacco (HB)
- Get Healthy Sleep (HB)
- Manage Weight (HF)
- Control Cholesterol (HF)
- Manage Blood Sugar (HF)
- Manage Blood Pressure (HF)
Print out this list and post it on your fridge. Find your weak spot and focus on improving it first. For me, that’s “Be More Active.”
That means I need to make an effort to practice a couple of hours of moderate to vigorous exercise every week. If you need tips on how to achieve that or any of the other recommendations on the list, just visit their site.
Nothing fancy or hard to follow — just some support in getting started and continuing along a path that could help you age slower and healthier!
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Heart Health Linked to Slower Aging — Neuroscience News
Life’s Essential 8™ — American Heart Association
Only 1 in 5 people in the U.S. has optimal heart health — Eureka Alert