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8 Heart-Healthy Habits May Slow Biological Ageing By 6 Years Study Shows Health News

Research findings set to be unveiled at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023, scheduled for November 11–13 in Philadelphia, suggest that maintaining robust cardiovascular health, as outlined in the AHA's Life’s Essential 8 checklist, might, on average, slow down the process of biological ageing by six years.

Additionally, adherence to this checklist may contribute to a reduced susceptibility to cardiovascular disease and other age-related illnesses.

The Life’s Essential 8 checklist encompasses various lifestyle factors:

  • Get sufficient sleep
  • Refrain from smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stick to a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage healthy blood sugar levels
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels
  • Keep blood pressure within the normal range

While these habits show promise in slowing down biological ageing, it's crucial to note that the findings are pending publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

To assess cardiovascular health, researchers evaluated individuals based on their adherence to the Life’s Essential 8 checklist. The aggregate score categorised participants into high, moderate, or low cardiovascular health groups. Biological ageing was measured by calculating phenotypic age, a metric derived from chronological age and nine blood tests gauging metabolism, inflammation, and organ function.

Analysis of 6,500 adults in the study revealed that those with high cardiovascular health exhibited a physiological age younger than their actual age. On average, their chronological age was 41, while their biological age was 36. Conversely, individuals with low cardiovascular health were found to age faster than expected, with an average biological age of 57 despite being chronologically 53.

Furthermore, having the highest Life’s Essential 8 score, indicating superior cardiovascular health, correlated with an average biological age six years younger than those with the lowest scores.

Biological ageing, as explained by geneticist Moshe Szyf, involves physiological changes influenced by age-related alterations in gene function. These changes impact the immune system, metabolism, cardiovascular system, and the brain, potentially affecting overall health. Epigenetic modifications, particularly age-dependent DNA methylation alterations, play a role in these changes.

Szyf highlighted the concept of an "epigenetic clock," a reflection of health status that may outperform official age on identification cards. While genetics contribute to the pace of this clock, lifestyle, environmental factors, and social influences also play a crucial role.

"The Life’s Essential 8 habits are believed to influence gene programming, likely through epigenetic mechanisms. These habits engage with the regulatory circuits that change with age, sending crucial signals that can reset epigenetic programs to a more youthful state,” Szyf stated, emphasising the impact of lifestyle factors like diet, sleep, and exercise on modifying epigenetic programs. However, the precise mechanisms remain a subject of ongoing research.

Registered nurse, assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Nursing, and founding principal investigator of the Maternal-Infant Immunomonitoring Laboratory, Shannon Gillespie, PhD, an advocate of the Life’s Essential 8 checklist, recommends adopting these habits as they offer "easy-to-understand, actionable goals."

Gillespie encourages individuals to assess their health journey, make gradual changes, and stay connected with healthcare professionals or community resources to monitor progress.

To adopt the ‘essential 8’ over the long term,” explained Gillespie, “it’s first important to take note of where you are in your health journey and know that even small changes can make a big difference if you continue to build on them over time.

Perhaps your blood pressure or blood sugar levels are higher than you’d like,” she said. “That’s a great opportunity to set a goal and develop a plan with your healthcare provider.

Use the tool to tailor how you approach health and wellness for your specific needs and to know when to reach out for assistance.

Acknowledging the positive impact of the checklist on health is essential for customising strategies for a healthier lifestyle and reaching out for support when necessary. Doing this could enhance the likelihood of enjoying a longer and healthier life.

This article was brought to you by HealthPlan, experts in expat health insurance in Spain.

Source: HealthLine