Researchers have unveiled a set of eight health measures that, when diligently followed, could potentially slow down the biological ageing process by approximately six years. Maintaining an ideal body weight, managing blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, in conjunction with adopting healthy sleep patterns, engaging in regular physical activity, and abstaining from smoking, are among these key measures.
This groundbreaking study, based on a dataset of over 6,500 adults with an average age of 47, is currently being presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions conference in Philadelphia.
The research highlights that individuals who maintain optimal cardiovascular health may, in essence, age biologically at a rate approximately six years slower than their chronological age. These findings underscore the critical link between one’s biological age and chronological age and how adherence to a set of healthy lifestyle habits can contribute to a longer and healthier life.
Donald Lloyd-Jones, the chair of the writing group for “Life’s Essential 8,” the AHA’s health assessment tool, noted, “Everyone wants to live longer, yet more importantly, we want to live healthier longer so we can really enjoy and have good quality of life for as many years as possible.” Lloyd-Jones, a former volunteer president of the AHA, emphasized the aspiration for extended, high-quality living.
“Life’s Essential 8” serves as a framework for defining heart health, founded on four adjustable lifestyle measures and four modifiable health markers. The research team gauged a person’s phenotypic, or biological, age by assessing factors such as metabolism, organ function, and inflammation. Phenotypic age acceleration, the difference between an individual’s biological and chronological age, was used to evaluate the pace of biological ageing.
Even after accounting for various socio-economic and demographic factors, the study concluded that those with the highest score on “Life’s Essential 8,” indicative of robust cardiovascular health, exhibited a biological age that was approximately six years younger.
Nour Makarem, the senior study author and an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University Irving Medical Centre, New York City, stated, “We found that higher cardiovascular health is associated with decelerated biological ageing, as measured by phenotypic age.” Furthermore, the study revealed a dose-dependent connection, indicating that as heart health improves, biological ageing decelerates.
For instance, individuals with good heart health had an average chronological age of 41, yet their average biological age was 36. Conversely, individuals with poor cardiovascular health had an average chronological age of 53, while their average biological age was 57.
Makarem highlighted the potential advantages of adhering to these health metrics and improving cardiovascular health, as it can contribute to slowing down the body’s ageing process and yielding numerous long-term benefits.
The eight health measures endorsed by the American Heart Association are as follows:
1. Follow a balanced diet.
2. Engage in regular physical activity.
3. Quit smoking.
4. Establish healthy sleep patterns.
5. Maintain an ideal body weight.
6. Control cholesterol levels.
7. Monitor blood sugar.
8. Manage blood pressure.