Good heart health can knock six years off of your biological age, a new study has found.
Researchers looked at 6,500 US adults and discovered that those who followed the eight key components for healthy cardiovascular health were on average six years younger, biologically, than their actual age.
Called 'The Essential 8', this checklist included: healthy sleep, not smoking, regular physical activity, healthy diet, healthy body weight, and blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure.
"We found that higher cardiovascular health is associated with decelerated biological ageing, as measured by phenotypic (biological) age," senior study author Dr Nour Makarem, from Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, said.
"We also found a dose-dependent association – as heart health goes up, biological ageing goes down. 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."
Dr Makarem added that reduced biological ageing is not just associated with lower risk of heart disease, but can also reduce your risk of an early death.
On the other hand, the study found that poor cardiovascular health can make someone age faster.
The study participants with high cardiovascular health were aged 41, with a biological age of 36. Those with the poorest cardiovascular health were aged 53, with a biological age of 57.
"These findings help us understand the link between chronological age and biological age and how following healthy lifestyle habits can help us live longer," former president of the American Heart Association Dr Donald Lloyd-Jones said.
"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."
How to have better heart health
According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), 7.6 million Brits are currently living with a heart or circulatory disease, which kills up to 460 people per day.
Along with the Essential 8 mentioned in the study, the BHF says that some of the best exercises for heart health include aerobic exercises, strength and resistance training, and flexibility exercises.
Age UK says cutting down on alcohol and choosing healthy ways to cook and prepare food can have a positive impact on heart health too, as can meeting up with friends, eating nuts and flaxseeds, and losing 5% of your body weight.
Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your heart health and get the best advice tailored to you.
Additional reporting by SWNS.
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