The American Heart association recommends meeting the goals from their “Life’s Simple 7” checklist:
- Manage blood pressure
- Control cholesterol
- Keep blood sugar within healthy range
- Get Active
- Eat a healthier diet
- Keep your body weight in the healthy range
- Don’t Smoke
A recent study  examined data from the famous Framingham Heart cohort, and found that if you are 70 years old, you are ten times more likely to have healthy coronary arteries if you meet 6 out of the above 7 guidelines compared to those who meet one or less of the guidelines.
These 7 guidelines are not that challenging except number 6. Not smoking is a no-brainer. The healthy diet guidelines are reasonable like, less junk, more fruits and veggies. For get active they just want you to move moderately 150 minutes or more per week, towards which activities of daily living count, or move more vigorously 75 minutes per week. Meeting guidelines 4 and 5 should go a long way towards meeting 1 and 3, and should help with 2, and you may need to supplment that with meds, as they suggest here.
We’re left with weight control, which many do consider a challenge. For some, healthier eating and being more active may help, but it still might not get your body mass index in the ideal range for others. This leads us back to the focus on health not weight idea which I’ve covered here previously. If you do well on the other 6 guidelines and struggle with weight, it’s comforting to know you’re probably still doing well from a heart health standpoint because you’re still hitting 6 out 7.
I learned of this study on Clarence Bass’s website, and Clarence has a good discussion of it there.
- Niranen, T, et al, “Prevalence, Correlates, and Prognosis of Healthy Vascular Aging in a Western Community-Dwelling Cohort”, Hypertension, 2017.