People with faster aging gain most from maintaining good heart health

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In recent research, scientists have discovered that maintaining good heart health might slow down aging at the cellular level, particularly for those who are genetically prone to age faster.

This new understanding opens up possibilities for reducing the risk of heart diseases and overall mortality.

The study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association, explored how lifestyle choices influence our cardiovascular health and overall aging. Dr. Jiantao Ma from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston led the study.

He and his team found that individuals with a genetic disposition to age quickly could actually lessen their inherent risks through healthy behaviors.

The research primarily focused on a biochemical process called DNA methylation, which influences how genes function.

This process can either speed up or slow down how our cells age, impacting overall health and longevity. DNA methylation changes how genes are expressed without altering the genetic code itself, which remains constant throughout life.

For their study, the researchers used a standard called Life’s Essential 8 (LE8) by the American Heart Association to assess cardiovascular health.

This standard includes eight key areas: diet, exercise, exposure to nicotine, sleep duration, body weight, and levels of glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure in the blood.

Previous studies have shown that excelling in these areas can significantly reduce the risk of heart diseases and other chronic illnesses, even for those at high genetic risk.

Participants in the study were part of the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term project tracking heart disease over generations.

They were assessed on their cardiovascular health and biological age, which reflects the condition of cells rather than chronological age. The participants, on average 56 years old, were followed for 11 to 14 years.

The results were telling. Higher LE8 scores correlated with a younger biological age and reduced risks of heart disease and mortality.

For every 13-point improvement in the LE8 score, there was a 35% decrease in the risk of heart disease, a 36% reduction in heart disease-related deaths, and a 29% drop in death from all causes.

Furthermore, the impact of cardiovascular health on DNA methylation was notably more significant in those genetically predisposed to age faster.

This suggests that maintaining good heart health is even more crucial for this group, as it has a pronounced effect on their biological aging and overall health.

Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, who is not part of this study but is a past president of the American Heart Association, emphasized the importance of understanding epigenetics in this context.

Epigenetics explores how behaviors and environment can change how our genes work. According to him, this research highlights that lifestyle choices lead to molecular changes that can either benefit or harm us over time.

This insight is particularly empowering because it shows that even small changes in our lifestyle can make a significant difference.

Starting with one of the eight metrics and gradually improving can lead to meaningful benefits at any age. It’s never too late to start making these changes.

In conclusion, this study not only reaffirms the importance of living a healthy lifestyle but also sheds light on the molecular changes that such habits can bring about, offering a deeper understanding of how we can influence our health and longevity.

If you care about heart disease, please read studies that herbal supplements could harm your heart rhythm, and how eating eggs can help reduce heart disease risk.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that apple juice could benefit your heart health, and results showing yogurt may help lower the death risks in heart disease.

The research findings can be found in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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