While you may feel young at heart, chances are your heart is probably older than you realize.
A recent CDC study showed that Americans’ heart age is, on average, seven years older than their biological age.
The term “heart age” is a term used to describe your overall heart health and your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease can cause a variety of issues, including heart attack and stroke, and it is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease
Certain cardiovascular disease risk factors are things you cannot control, like aging or family history.
Still, many risk factors are within your control. The most common reasons for increased heart age can be changed or managed: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and diabetes.
How to Calculate Your Heart Age
The only way to obtain an accurate understanding of your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is by talking with your doctor or health care provider.
Still, various online tools can help you compare your actual age to your heart age, like this one from The Guthrie Clinic. The Guthrie Clinic’s Heart Age Quiz evaluates your 10-year risk of developing cardiovascular disease. When taking the assessment, you will provide some general information about your age, height, and weight. You will also answer more specific questions about your family history, current health, and lifestyle factors. You may not know the answers to all the questions, and that’s OK. Just answer the questions to the best of your ability.
At the end of the assessment, you will receive a Results Report to print or email to yourself and share with your doctor.
Remember, your Results Report is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent disease, and it is not intended to provide a determination of the state of your health. You should always review your results with a licensed health care provider.
Steps You Can Take to Lower Your Heart Age
At any age, you can make your heart younger by making changes that reduce your risk. Start by choosing one or two steps from the list below and focus on improving those first.
- Monitor Your Blood Pressure: Purchase a blood pressure monitor to keep at home and check your blood pressure regularly. Keeping track of your blood pressure measurements in between checkups helps you and your health care provider know if there may be an issue.
- Eat Healthy: Making healthier food choices can help maintain your weight and lower your blood pressure. Cut down on your sodium intake, drink more water, and incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your diet.
- Make Time for Physical Activity: Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight and lower your blood pressure. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. Don’t be afraid to start by setting smaller goals at first. Talk with your doctor about the type of exercises that would be best for you.
- Stop Smoking: Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels, causing smokers to have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Control Your Weight: Keeping your weight under control can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Although you can’t turn back the clock on your actual age, it may be possible to take years off of your heart age with some simple lifestyle changes. Talk with your doctor about how to make heart-healthy choices for a lower heart age.