Reset Your Heart Age

Did You Know…that your heart may be older than you are?

According to officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 out of 4 adults in the United States have a “heart age” that is older than their calendar age.  Heart age is calculated from an equation that uses your actual age… your body mass index… and risk factors for heart attack and stroke such as high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, and diabetes status.

The results of a study published in September of 2015 indicate that about 50% of men and 40% of women have a heart age 5 years or more past their chronological age.  The average cardiovascular age for adult men was 8 years older than their actual age, and for women, the average was 5 years older.

The good news? You can re-set your heart age.  Read on to find out how.

Why Heart Age Matters 

These findings on heart age vs. chronological age came from the Framingham Heart Study, a health research project focused on understanding the causes of heart disease and stroke since 1948. Rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD) have been rising in the United States since the beginning of the century; at this time, CVD is the leading cause of serious illness and death.

The CDC research team found heart ages varied from region to region.  The highest percentage of adults with cardiovascularages that exceed their actual age by 5 or more years were found in…

  • Mississippi
  • West Virginia 
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Alabama

And on the other end of the spectrum, the lowest percent of adults with that differential was found in…

  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts

Calculating—and Resetting—Your Heart Age 

Happily, experts say there are steps you can take now to lower your heart age and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.  The first step is to calculate your heart age with an online calculator created by the Framingham Heart Study.  The calculator makes it easier to focus on factors you need to change, Dr. Tara Narula, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told CBS News. “You can very clearly see the significant difference you can make by changing those risk factors.”

Narula mentioned a study done in 2014 that shows people who had calculated their heart age were more likely to take steps to improve their cardiovascular health, compared to people who simply received information or counseling.

So, what kinds of steps can you take?  Experts recommend choosing 1 or 2 factors to begin with, such as smoking or high blood pressure.  Working on eliminating bad habits and replacing them with healthier ones can reset your heart age.