These 8 Factors Can Slow Aging by 5 Years

Following a new checklist from the American Heart Association could help decelerate the process
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2023 8:30 AM CST
These 8 Factors Can Slow Aging by 5 Years
The American Heart Association's "Life's Essential 8" list promotes habits that could slow aging.   (Getty/JLco - Julia Amaral)

If you love a good checklist, then keep this one from the American Heart Association handy. It outlines eight essential measures that can slow down aging by up to five years, based on new findings out of Columbia University that AHA will launch at its annual meeting this November, the Guardian reports. The initiative has been dubbed Life's Essential 8, and it includes four health markers and four lifestyle actions that promote heart health. The health markers—body weight, blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure—should be checked regularly at annual physicals, while the lifestyle measures—healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise habits, along with abstaining from smoking—are typically within someone's control to change.

"The cool thing is there are eight health factors and behaviors that are modifiable," Nour Makarem, an author on the study, tells NBC News. "This is a very hopeful message." The study looks at chronological age versus biological age, or the pace one has physically aged. Those who checked off more healthy markers on the list were shown to have the blood markers of someone younger, meaning a 41-year-old person, say, could age slower and claim a biological age of 36. As Makarem says, "as heart health goes up, biological aging goes down." On the flip side, scoring worse on the list upped someone's physical age: A 53-year-old person with poor cardiovascular health, for instance, averaged a physical age of 57.

"By improving heart health, we can slow down our bodies' aging process," says Makarem. Biological age, also known as phenotypical age, is determined by looking at a person's chronological age alongside nine blood markers, including those for liver, kidney, and immune system health, as well as those for diabetes risk and inflammation levels. "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," Donald Lloyd-Jones, who worked on the AHA's Life's Essential 8 assessment tool, tells the Guardian. (More stories about aging).

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