What is Your Heart Age?

We may not be able to halt the aging process, but there are lifestyle habits that can support a healthier later life and prevent premature aging.  But most Americans have a heart age older than their actual years, and accelerated heart aging increases the risk for heart disease. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, an online tool to calculate heart age, adapted from the Framingham Heart Study, is available for people interested in learning their risk factors for cardiovascular disease.  You will need to know your body mass index and cholesterol levels for the tool, which also uses age, blood pressure, and lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and smoking to calculate risk. 

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 2 men have a heart age 5 or more years older than their actual age and 2 in 5 women have a heart age 5 or more years older than their actual age.  CDC research suggests that about 3 in 4 heart attacks and strokes are caused by risk factors that increase heart age. 

Even if the news isn’t great after taking the assessment, there are many lifestyle changes that can help lower your risk for heart disease.  By starting with one or two changes at first, middle-aged and older adults can significantly improve their health and longevity, and lower the risk for chronic illnesses.  

Healthy Lifestyle Habits

  • Quit smoking if you’re a smoker
  • Get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week
  • Eat heart-healthy foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, and lean protein, especially fish
  • Limit salt
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Improve your cholesterol
  • Manage your blood sugar if you have diabetes

Source:  Mayo Clinic

Talk with your doctor about strategies to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and manage diabetes, and other lifestyle changes that can improve heart health.   Learn more by following this link to the American Heart Association website.