‘Life’s Essential 8’ checklist may slow down aging by 6 years, study finds

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Maintaining a high level of cardiovascular health may be the key to slowing down the biological aging process, ultimately reducing the risk of age-related diseases and extending one’s lifespan.

A preliminary study, to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023, delves into the relationship between heart health and biological aging, shedding light on how a healthy heart can contribute to a longer and healthier life.

Measuring Aging Beyond Chronological Years

Traditionally, we measure our age in chronological years. However, researchers in this study took a different approach by calculating “phenotypic age.”

This measure goes beyond your actual age and assesses your biological age based on nine blood markers related to metabolism, inflammation, and organ function.

These markers are routinely obtained during clinical visits, making phenotypic age a practical tool for assessing biological aging.

Phenotypic age acceleration is the difference between your phenotypic age and your actual age. A higher phenotypic age acceleration suggests faster biological aging.

The Link Between Cardiovascular Health and Biological Aging

The study explored the connection between cardiovascular health, as measured by the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 checklist, and the biological aging process assessed through phenotypic age.

Key findings include:

Individuals with high cardiovascular health showed negative phenotypic age acceleration, indicating they were biologically younger than their chronological age.

In contrast, those with low cardiovascular health had positive phenotypic age acceleration, signifying that they were biologically older than their actual age.

For example, participants with high cardiovascular health had an average actual age of 41 but a biological age of 36, while those with low cardiovascular health had an average actual age of 53 but a biological age of 57.

After accounting for various factors like socioeconomic and demographic variables, individuals with the highest Life’s Essential 8 score (indicating high cardiovascular health) had a biological age approximately six years younger than their actual age compared to those with the lowest score (indicating low cardiovascular health).

Embracing a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle for a Longer, Healthier Life

The study underscores the importance of adhering to the Life’s Essential 8 metrics and prioritizing cardiovascular health.

It reveals that improved cardiovascular health can effectively slow down the biological aging process, resulting in numerous benefits.

Slower biological aging not only reduces the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease but also extends life expectancy and lowers the risk of premature death.

Study Details:

  • The study involved over 6,500 adults, with an average age of 47, and included a diverse participant group.
  • Life’s Essential 8 is a comprehensive checklist of healthy lifestyle behaviors and health measures that contribute to optimal cardiovascular health.
  • These eight metrics encompass aspects like healthy sleep, non-smoking, regular physical activity, a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
  • The participants’ overall cardiovascular health scores fell into three categories: high, moderate, or low cardiovascular health.

In conclusion, these findings emphasize the connection between our cardiovascular health and the aging process.

By adopting heart-healthy habits and prioritizing cardiovascular well-being, individuals can not only extend their lifespan but also enjoy a higher quality of life as they age. Living longer is a goal, but living healthier longer is the ultimate achievement in the pursuit of well-being.

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