Ann Davis, M.D.Specialty: Cardiology shared in the Edwards Elmhurst Healthy Driven Blog that you may feel young at heart, but is your heart actually older than you?
Risk factors that can increase your heart age include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Obesity (using body mass index, BMI, as an indicator)
The CDC created a heart age calculator that uses these risk factors to calculate your heart age. The calculator determines your heart age based on your BMI.
For example, a 30-year-old woman with a normal blood pressure and BMI, who doesn’t smoke or have diabetes, has a heart and vascular age of 28. If you use the same calculator, a 45-year-old man with slightly elevated blood pressure, who doesn’t smoke or have diabetes but who is obese with a high BMI, has a heart age of 52.
Is your heart older than you are? If you want to calculate your own heart age, you need to know your BMI first. You can use this BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to help you aim for a healthy weight.
You can keep your heart young by reducing your cardiac risk factors. Make these lifestyle changes:
- Control your blood pressure.
- Work with your doctor to manage your cholesterol.
- Work with your doctor to manage diabetes if you have it.
- Quit smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in sodium and trans fats, and high in fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Get 150 minutes of exercise every week.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Making small changes in your lifestyle can help keep your heart younger and stronger. If you’re looking for ways to improve your heart health, talk to your healthcare team. Your doctor can help you lower your risk of heart and vascular disease.