Medical Research

published : 2023-11-09

Want to live longer? Follow 8 heart-healthy habits, says the American Heart Association

Those who scored high for ‘Life’s Essential 8’ had a younger biological age, AHA study found

A stunning photo of a vibrant heart-shaped fruit bowl, showcasing the importance of a healthy diet for heart health. (Taken with a Canon EOS 5D)

Making several specific lifestyle changes could slow biological aging by six years, according to a study by the American Heart Association (AHA).

The AHA's research revealed that improved heart health plays a crucial role in slowing down the aging process, ultimately reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues.

The study highlights the importance of incorporating 'Life's Essential 8' habits, which are defined by the AHA as key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health.

These findings will be presented at the AHA's Scientific Sessions 2023 in Philadelphia.

Led by Nour Makarem, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, the study emphasizes that improving heart health through healthy lifestyle changes not only lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease but also slows down the rate of biological aging, resulting in more years of healthy living.

Dr. Bradley Serwer, a Maryland-based cardiologist and chief medical officer at VitalSolution, supports these findings and states that focusing on health has numerous benefits beyond just coronary artery disease.

The AHA measures phenotypic age, which takes into account actual age as well as blood markers that reflect metabolism, inflammation, and organ function.

Phenotypic age serves as a practical tool to assess the body's biological aging process and predicts the future risk of disease and death.

An inspiring image of a person engaging in physical activity, symbolizing the significance of regular exercise in improving heart health and overall well-being. (Taken with a Nikon D850)

The research discovered a dose-response relationship, meaning that as heart health improves, biological aging slows down.

Even making gradual improvements in lifestyle behaviors can be beneficial and contribute to healthy longevity.

The AHA's 'Life's Essential 8' includes maintaining healthy blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, and incorporating regular physical activity, a healthy diet, not smoking, and watching weight.

By evaluating the eight markers, individuals receive a heart health score of high, moderate, or low.

Those with high heart health scores are, on average, biologically six years younger than their actual age.

Conversely, individuals with low heart health have an average biological age that is older than their actual age.

However, the study's limitation is that it only evaluated heart health at one point in time, without accounting for any changes afterward.

Dr. Ernst von Schwarz, a cardiologist from Culver City, California, highlights that biological aging follows a natural life cycle of cells and organisms, but advancements in biotechnology and anti-aging research allow for interference in these processes.

A beautiful photograph of a serene nature scene, reminding readers to find moments of peace and tranquility to promote heart health and healthy living. (Taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III)

Regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and self-management of risk factors are essential for both heart health and longevity according to the American Heart Association.

The ultimate goal is not just to live longer but to live healthier and enjoy a good quality of life for as many years as possible.

Beyond the 'Life's Essential 8', social and spiritual fulfillment also contribute to achieving longevity.

These groundbreaking findings help us understand the link between chronological age and biological age, and the impact that healthy lifestyle habits have on promoting longer and healthier lives.

The study serves as a reminder that we have the power to influence our health and well-being by making positive choices.

With ongoing clinical studies and the development of interventions like senolytic drugs, we are exploring new ways to delay or inhibit senescence and its associated processes.

In conclusion, adopting the 'Life's Essential 8' habits recommended by the American Heart Association can lead to not only a longer lifespan but also a higher quality of life.