Even Your Heart Has An Age! Here Are 7 Simple Tips to Keep It Young.

If you’re here, chances are you want to know more about how to keep your heart healthy for a long time. Well, beyond just your age, there’s something called «heart age.» It’s like a measure of how likely you are to have heart problems. We’ll talk about what heart age is, how to figure it out, and some simple advice from heart experts to make sure your heart stays strong at any age. Let’s dive in!

Your heart age is like a special number that shows how much risk you have for things like a stroke or a heart attack. It’s not just about how old you are. This heart age is influenced by things like your age, blood pressure, cholesterol, and how you live your life. There’s a tool called the «Heart Age Calculator» from the New York City Health Department. It helps you see if your heart age is higher than your actual age, which means there might be a higher chance of heart problems. If that’s the case, it’s a sign that you need to take some steps to lower the risk.

Sometimes, your heart gives you hints that it might need some extra care. Signs like chest pain during activity, feeling dizzy, tiredness, headaches, or confusion could mean your heart is aging faster than it should. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to talk to a heart expert (a cardiologist) to make sure everything is okay and to get advice on how to keep your heart in good shape. Taking action early can make a big difference in how well your heart works.

Actions to take to turn back the clock on your heart age:

#1. Lower Your LDL Cholesterol

Monitoring your LDL cholesterol, commonly known as «bad cholesterol,» is paramount. Maintaining levels below 100 mg/dl is generally advised, with a lower target of 70 mg/dl for those with known heart disease. A coronary calcium scan during routine physicals can help assess your LDL cholesterol levels.

#2. Engage In Regular Exercise

Strive for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, as recommended by the American Heart Association. This includes aerobic and weight-bearing activities like walking, swimming, or lightweight dumbbell exercises. Finding a workout buddy can add motivation and accountability to your fitness routine.

#3. Lower Your Stress Levels

Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Incorporate stress-reducing activities such as exercise, meditation, and breathing exercises into your routine. Seeking the guidance of a therapist can be beneficial for managing stressors in various aspects of life.

#4. Eat Nutritious Foods

Embrace a balanced diet rich in lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole-food fiber. The Mediterranean diet, emphasizing fatty fish, nuts, and legumes, has proven beneficial. Aim for a «rainbow on your plate» with antioxidant-rich foods.

#5. Stop Smoking and Vaping

Smoking and vaping expose your heart to harmful chemicals, constrict blood vessels, cause inflammation, and affect blood pressure and heart rate. Quitting these habits is essential for overall heart health.

#6. Get Enough Sleep

Ensuring seven to nine hours of sleep each night contributes to overall well-being, reducing the risk of obesity and high blood pressure—both factors linked to poor heart health.

#7. Learn About Your Genetics

Understanding nonmodifiable risk factors based on genetics, such as a family history of heart attacks, allows for early intervention. Consult with a cardiologist for screenings and personalized preventive measures.

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