The American Heart Association recently updated their key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health which they refer to as “Life’s Essential 8.” Keeping your heart healthy is important to decrease the risk of adverse cardiovascular events such as heart disease, stroke, and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States1. One person dies every 34 seconds in the U.S. from cardiovascular disease1. Improving and maintaining cardiovascular health is important to health and well-being. Let’s review the American Heart Association’s recommendations from their Life’s Essential 8.
You should follow an overall healthy diet that includes many whole foods that come from the earth such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds. It is recommended to cook using non-tropical oils such as olive oil and canola oil.
2. Physical Activity
It is recommended that adults get 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Children should get 1 hour of exercise every day which can include structured exercises and / or physical play actives.
3. Nicotine Exposure
The use or inhalation of nicotine products is harmful and should be avoided. This includes traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, and vaping. The use and inhalation of these products is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Children should be kept away from exposure to secondhand smoke. About 75% of U.S. kids from the ages of 3 to 11 years old are exposed to secondhand smoke.
4. Sleep Duration
Sleep is important to healing, brain function, and preventing chronic disease. It is recommended that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Children five years old and younger should get 10 to 16 hours of sleep daily (including naps). Children, aged 6 to 12 should get 9 to 12 hours of sleep daily. Children, aged 13 to 18 should get 8 to 10 hours daily.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important to overall health and can help prevent many health problems. Have a goal body mass index (BMI) of 25.
It is important to monitor and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Having a high level of bad cholesterol can lead to heart disease.
7. Blood Sugar
Monitoring blood sugar or glucose levels is also another important factor in maintaining health. Having blood sugar levels that are too high can damage the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.
8. Blood Pressure
Regularly checking blood pressure can help you monitor your cardiovascular health. Having a healthy blood pressure can keep you healthier longer and prevent adverse cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
To learn more about the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8, visit their website by clicking here.
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