Eight measures known as Life’s Essential 8 can not only significantly improve the health of the cardiovascular system, but also slow down biological aging. This can be expected to have corresponding positive effects on life expectancy.
In a current study, researchers examined the connection between compliance with the Life’s Essential 8 checklist and the biological aging process or phenotypic age. The results will be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023.
Biological age and phenotypic age
Biological aging has a significant impact on our health and is in turn influenced by illnesses and numerous other factors. The biological age can be assessed using the so-called phenotypic age.
“Phenotypic age is a practical tool for assessing our body’s biological aging process and a strong predictor of future risk of disease and death,” explains study author Dr. Nour Makarem from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
The research team continues that phenotypic age is determined based on chronological age and nine blood markers for metabolism, inflammation and organ function.
From this, a phenotypic age acceleration can be derived, which describes the difference between the actual age and the phenotypic age.
What influence do Life’s Essential 8 have?
Using data from over 6,500 adults from the 2015-2018 Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the research team in the new study calculated the participants’ phenotypic age and phenotypic age acceleration.
They then identified possible links to heart and brain health as measured by the Life’s Essential 8 checklist. This checklist is based on eight factors that promote optimal cardiovascular health and includes:
- healthy sleep,
- Do not smoke,
- regular physical activity,
- healthy eating,
- healthy body weight
- avoid high blood sugar levels,
- avoid high cholesterol levels
- and maintain healthy blood pressure.
The research team calculated a person’s overall score by taking the average of all eight metrics, resulting in scores in three categories: high, moderate or low cardiovascular health.
Biological aging slowed down
According to the researchers, further data analysis revealed a clear connection between good cardiovascular health – measured using the Life’s Essential 8 checklist – and slower biological aging.
“We found that better cardiovascular health is associated with slowed biological aging, as measured by phenotypic age,” said Dr. Makarem.
According to the researchers, participants with high cardiovascular health had a negative phenotypic age acceleration, meaning that they were younger than physiologically expected.
In contrast, people with poor cardiovascular health showed a positive phenotypic age acceleration and were older than physiologically expected.
Biologically up to six years younger
According to the experts, the highest Life’s Essential 8 values were associated with an average phenotypic age that was six years younger than the lowest values.
“Increasing adherence to all Life’s Essential 8 metrics and improving your cardiovascular health can slow your body’s aging process and provide many benefits down the line,” emphasizes Dr. Makarem.
Reduced biological aging is not only associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, but also with a longer life and a lower risk of early death.
Live healthier for longer!
“These findings help us understand the connection between chronological age and biological age and how following healthy lifestyle habits can help us live longer,” adds study author Donald M. Lloyd-Jones of Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.
“Everyone wants to live longer, but more importantly we want to live longer, healthier lives so that we can truly enjoy life and have a good quality of life for as many years as possible,” continued Lloyd-Jones. The Life’s Essential 8 offer a good benchmark for achieving this goal. (fp)