Is Your Heart Older Than You Are? Here’s How To Make It YoungerPublished: Feb. 14, 2022
Sure, you know how old you are, but how old is your heart?
Unlike your actual age, your heart’s age is much more than just a number. It’s an important indicator of your overall cardiovascular health. And ideally, it’s the same age as you or younger, which translates to a lower risk of heart disease.
So how do you know the real age of your heart? The American Heart Association’s cardiovascular risk calculator provides a starting point, factoring in things like blood pressure, cholesterol and lifestyle.
Lowering Your Heart’s Age
Most Americans have a heart age older than they are, which correlates to an increased 10-year cardiovascular risk – the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke within 10 years. And nearly half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a history of smoking.
While you can’t control all risk factors for heart disease – like age and family history – here are some ways you can actively lower your heart’s age:
- Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night.
- Stay up to date on annual screenings and preventive health exams.
- Focus on filling your diet with heart-healthy foods: fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, whole grains, lean protein and fatty fish, dark chocolate, etc.
- Get at least 2 ½ hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week.
- Limit your salt, sugar and alcohol intake.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Manage stress levels with self-care techniques.
- Quit smoking if it’s a habit.
Conditions That Put You at Greater Risk
Oftentimes, people assume they’re living a healthy lifestyle but are unaware of underlying health conditions that may put them at greater risk for heart disease. Routine visits with your provider are extremely important to rule out:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Your provider can help you manage and control these conditions, often lessening their impact on your heart health. If you don’t know your blood pressure or cholesterol numbers, or you’re experiencing symptoms of heart disease, it’s time to reach out to your provider to at least obtain baseline health information. Ask them if they notice any red flags that could lead to heart issues in the future. Tell them if you have a family history of heart problems so they can help create an individualized plan to reduce your risk.
Remember: It’s never too early to start putting your heart first.