Maintaining a healthy heart by following the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 metrics may slow the pace of biological ageing and lower the risk of chronic diseases and premature death. These include healthy sleep, not smoking, regular physical activity, healthy diet, healthy body weight and healthy levels of glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure. The findings, based on data from more than 6,500 adults—50 per cent women, average age 47—were presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions.
Biological age, or phenotypic age, is calculated by combining a person’s actual age with the results of levels of blood markers for metabolism, inflammation and organ function, including glucose, C-reactive protein and creatinine. Phenotypic age acceleration is the difference between one’s phenotypic age and actual age, with higher acceleration indicating faster biological ageing.
The higher a person’s cardiovascular health, the lower their biological age, and the lower their heart heath, the higher their biological age. For example, the average biological age of a 41-year-old with high cardiovascular health was 36, whereas the average biological age of a 53-year-old with low cardiovascular health was 57.
After accounting for social, economic and demographic factors, having the highest Life’s Essential 8 score, and thereby high cardiovascular health, was associated with having a biological age that is on average six years younger than the individual’s actual age. “Phenotypic age is a practical tool to assess our body’s biological ageing process and a strong predictor of future risk of disease and death,” the study said.