Is Your Heart Older than You? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on February 09, 2016

Is Your Heart Older than You?

An estimated 69 million U.S. adults have a heart age older than their actual age.

An estimated 69 million U.S. adults have
a heart age older than their actual age.

The saying “young at heart” is no longer limited to a feeling – it’s something to strive for in terms of heart health. Here’s why – regardless of what your birth certificate says your physical age is, your heart could be much older.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 69 million U.S. adults have a heart age older than their actual age. For men, the average heart age is about eight years older than their chronological age; for women, their hearts were an average of five years older than their real age. And about three in four heart attacks and strokes are due to risk factors that increase heart age.

While there are several ways of looking at your risk of heart attack or stroke, your heart age is comprehensive of all of those risk factors. Basically, you want a heart age that is the same or younger than your actual age in order to lower your risk of heart disease.

Factors that prematurely age your heart include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes

In order to lower your heart age and thus reduce your risk of heart disease, here’s what you can do.

First, take control over your high blood pressure. Doing so can reduce the strain on your heart as well as your arteries and kidneys.

Similarly, work with your doctor to gain control over your high cholesterol, whether it’s through healthier lifestyle choices, medications or a combination.

If you have diabetes, you can’t necessarily change that, but you can manage it and keep your blood sugar within a healthy range.

If you don’t smoke, don’t start and try your best to avoid secondhand smoke. If you do smoke, it’s time to quit.

If up until now you’ve more or less had an unhealthy diet, it’s time to change that too. Eat a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in sodium, added sugars, saturated and trans fats.

In order to lower your heart age, you also have to leave your inactive and sedentary life behind. Getting 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, will get your heart age closer to your actual age.

And, finally, if you’re overweight or obese, losing excess weight will reduce your heart age as well – this should come somewhat naturally if you’re now eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

In fact, all of these lifestyle modifications help each other – physical activity and a healthy diet will help you control your cholesterol and blood pressure; quitting smoking can help lower your blood pressure; and losing excess weight can help you better manage your diabetes.

All of these healthy changes combined will not only help lower your heart age, but also make you feel better inside and out – dare we say young at heart.

Related Locations

eNewsletter Signup

Our eNewsletters from Crozer-Keystone Health System help keep you up-to-date on your health and well being. View recent editions or sign up to receive our free eNewsletters.