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Keeping 8 simple health and lifestyle measures in check ‘can slow biological ageing by SIX years’

Adults who keep eight simple health metrics in check may age slower, research has suggested.

Researchers believe following the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 can shave up to six years off your biological age.

Measures included on the checklist include eating healthily, exercising regularly, not smoking and getting enough sleep.

The four other checkpoints relate to staying slim, keeping cholesterol low and having healthy blood pressure and sugar levels.

Experts say the eight measures promote good heart health, which in turn might slow the pace of biological ageing.

The American Heart Association created Life's Essential 8 — a checklist for maintaining good heart health — in 2022. It includes eating healthily, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and sleeping enough, as well as maintaining a healthy weight and keeping cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure in check The American Heart Association created Life's Essential 8 — a checklist for maintaining good heart health — in 2022. It includes eating healthily, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and sleeping enough, as well as maintaining a healthy weight and keeping cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure in check

The American Heart Association created Life’s Essential 8 — a checklist for maintaining good heart health — in 2022. It includes eating healthily, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and sleeping enough, as well as maintaining a healthy weight and keeping cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure in check

Experts say the eight measures promote good heart health, which in turn might slow the pace of biological ageing. Scientists also gave each participant either a high, moderate or low cardiovascular score based on how well they stuck to the Life Essential 8 checklist. Factors that could skew the results, income, education and ethnicity, were accounted for Experts say the eight measures promote good heart health, which in turn might slow the pace of biological ageing. Scientists also gave each participant either a high, moderate or low cardiovascular score based on how well they stuck to the Life Essential 8 checklist. Factors that could skew the results, income, education and ethnicity, were accounted for

Experts say the eight measures promote good heart health, which in turn might slow the pace of biological ageing. Scientists also gave each participant either a high, moderate or low cardiovascular score based on how well they stuck to the Life Essential 8 checklist. Factors that could skew the results, income, education and ethnicity, were accounted for

Academics at Columbia University in New York analysed data from more than 6,500 Americans, aged 47, on average.

They calculated their phenotypic age — an experimental measure of biological age based on the results of nine biomarkers, including those that monitor metabolism, inflammation and organ function. 

Scientists also gave each participant either a high, moderate or low cardiovascular score based on how well they stuck to the Life Essential 8 checklist. 

Factors that could skew the results, income, education and ethnicity, were accounted for.

What are the Life’s Essential 8 factors?

1. Eat better: Include whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and cooking in non-tropical oils such as olive and canola

2. Be more active: Adults should get 2 ½ hours of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week

3. Quit tobacco: Use of inhaled nicotine delivery products, which includes traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaping, is the leading cause of preventable death in the US

4. Get healthy sleep: Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Adequate sleep promotes healing, improves brain function and reduces the risk for chronic disease

5. Manage weight: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has many benefits

6. Control cholesterol: High levels of non-HDL, or ‘bad,’ cholesterol can lead to heart disease

7. Manage blood sugar: Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves

8. Manage blood pressure: Keeping your blood pressure within acceptable ranges can keep you healthier longer

Having high cardiovascular health was associated with a lower biological age — meaning these participants were younger than expected physiologically.

For example, the average actual age of those with high cardiovascular health was 41, yet their average biological age was 36.

In contrast, those with low cardiovascular health had a positive phenotypic age acceleration — meaning that they were older than expected biologically.

And the average actual age of those with low cardiovascular health was 53, while their biological age was 57 — four years higher than expected. 

Further analysis suggested that having the highest healthy score was linked to being six years younger, biologically. 

Study author Professor Nour Makarem, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University in New York, said: ‘We found that higher cardiovascular health is associated with decelerated biological ageing, as measured by phenotypic age.

‘We also found a dose-dependent association — as heart health goes up, biological ageing goes down.’

She added: ‘Greater adherence to all Life’s Essential 8 metrics and improving your cardiovascular health can slow down your body’s ageing process and have a lot of benefits down the line.

‘Reduced biologic ageing is not just associated with lower risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, it is also associated with longer life and lower risk of death.

Dr Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the writing group for Life’s Essential 8 and former volunteer president of the American Heart Association, said: ‘These findings help us understand the link between chronological age and biological age and how following healthy lifestyle habits can help us live longer.

‘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.’

The researchers acknowledged that the participant’s cardiovascular health was only measured once, which doesn’t account for changes over time. 

The preliminary study will be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023 in Philadelphia between November 11 and 13.

High biological age may increase risk of dementia and stroke, study suggests

In a separate study published today, researchers in Sweden also found people who have a higher biological age than their actual chronological age have an increased risk of stroke and dementia.

Scientists at the Karolinska Institutet said someone whose biological age was five years higher than their actual age had a 40 per cent greater risk of developing vascular dementia or suffering a stroke.

They used 18 biomarkers to calculate biological age, including blood fats, blood sugar and lung function of 325,000 Brits aged 40 to 70.

Sara Hagg, associate professor at the Karolinska Institutet, said: ‘Several of the values can be influenced through lifestyle and medications.’ 

The study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, also found the risk of developing ALS, also known as motor neurone disease (MND), increases with higher biological age.

However, no such risk increase was seen for Parkinson’s.

New York

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