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What’s the secret to longevity? Is it about eating well? Making sure you get enough exercise and sleep? Frankly, it includes all these three habits and many more. In fact, if you’re looking to improve your longevity, then all you need to do is focus on your heart. 

Life’s Essential 8 For Longevity

In 2010, the American Heart Association developed the “Life’s Essential 8” (LE8) – a set of measures that help individuals improve their cardiovascular health, which is important when you remember that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality worldwide. 

The healthy 8 tips include:

  1. Eat better
  2. Be More Active
  3. Quit Tobacco
  4. Get Healthy Sleep
  5. Manage Weight
  6. Control Cholesterol
  7. Manage Blood Sugar
  8. Manage Blood Pressure

Now, recent research has found that those who follow these habits will experience improved cardiovascular health and longevity. 

Heart health is at the core of longevity

Two recent studies, which were presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2023, used the Life’s Essential 8 as a metric in order to determine if ideal cardiovascular health may influence life expectancy and longevity.

The first study, which was led by Dr. Xuan Wang, of Tulane University in New Orleans, analyzed the health data of 136,599 participants, courtesy of UK Biobank. 

Dr. Wang and his team then categorized Life’s Essential 8 scores according to the American Heart Association’s recommendations:

  • Less than 50 out of 100 are considered to have poor cardiovascular health
  • 50 to less than 80 were intermediate
  • 80 and above were seen as ideal and defined as“high cardiovascular health”

According to the findings, men, and women with ideal cardiovascular health (scores of 80 and above) were expected to spend 75.9% and 83.4% of their lives free of chronic disease. On the other hand, their counterparts with lower scores were expected to only spend 64.9% and 69.4% of their lives in good health. 

Meyers IV for wellness

Photo by Lucas Pezeta from Pexels

To put this in years, men and women with higher cardiovascular scores were expected to live 6.9 years and 9.4 years longer, respectively. free of disease when compared to their counterparts. 

Healthy hearts boost life expectancy

The second study analyzed the data of over 23,000 adults, courtesy of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). It found that life expectancy for men and women aged 50 with ideal cardiovascular scores was an average of 7.5 years and 8.9 years, respectively, longer than their counterparts with poor cardiovascular scores.

“Our study indicates that adhering to a high CVH, defined as the Life’s Essential 8 score, is related to a considerably increased life expectancy. Moreover, our findings lend support to the validity of the newly released Life’s Essentia 8 metrics in assessment and monitoring CVH in the general populations.” – Dr. Hao Ma, study co-author and biostatistical analyst

Protect your heart and longevity 

It should be pointed out that both studies do have their limitations. For one, some of the participants’ data was self-reported. Also, metrics used to measure cardiovascular health were assessed only at baseline, but not during the follow-up period.

Nonetheless, the findings do add to the body of proof of the importance of prioritizing cardiovascular health for longevity. 

“The cardiovascular health construct studied in these two abstracts really does nail what patients are trying to do, which is to find the fountain of youth,” says LE8 writing group leader Professor Donald Lloyd-Jones, of Northwestern University, Chicago.

Yes, live longer, but more importantly, live healthier longer, and extend that health span so that you can really enjoy quality in your remaining life years.

MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: lenetstan/shutterstock

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Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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