Just eight healthy measures could reduce your biological age by six years.
That’s according to a preliminary analysis of 6,500 adults that found a clear link between having high cardiovascular health and slower biological ageing.
The measures are known as the American Heart Association’s (AHA) "Life’s Essential 8 metrics".
Researchers analysed the association between these behaviours for heart and brain health and the ageing process, measured by phenotypic age.
They determined high, moderate, or low cardiovascular health based on an average of the eight metrics.
“We found that higher cardiovascular health is associated with decelerated biological ageing, as measured by phenotypic age. We also found a dose-dependent association – as heart health goes up, biological ageing goes down,” said study senior author Nour Makarem, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in the US.
“Phenotypic age is a practical tool to assess our body’s biological ageing process and a strong predictor of future risk of disease and death”.
Phenotypic age is calculated based on a person’s chronological age plus blood markers for metabolism, inflammation, and organ function. The difference between that and a person’s actual age determines their phenotypic age acceleration.
A higher phenotypic age acceleration indicates faster biological ageing. People with high cardiovascular health, for instance, had negative phenotypic age acceleration.
Those with high cardiovascular health had an average actual age of 41, but their average biological age was 36.
The average age of those with low cardiovascular health was 53, while their average biological age was 57.
After adjusting for socioeconomic factors, the researchers found that high cardiovascular health was linked to having a biological age six years younger than a person’s chronological age.
‘Longer life and lower risk of death’
The researchers’ findings are set to be presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the US this weekend.
“Greater adherence to all Life’s Essential 8 metrics and improving your cardiovascular health can slow down your body’s ageing process and have a lot of benefits down the line,” Makarem said.
“Reduced biologic ageing is not just associated with lower risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, it is also associated with longer life and lower risk of death”.
Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of Northwestern University’s preventive medicine department said the research helps "us understand the link between chronological age and biological age and how following healthy lifestyle habits can help us live longer".
"Everyone wants to live longer, yet more importantly, we want to live healthier longer so we can really enjoy and have good quality of life for as many years as possible," he added in a statement.
Two studies presented earlier this year showed that adults scoring higher on the eight AHA metrics tended to live longer lives free of chronic disease.
One limitation of the study was that the cardiovascular metrics were measured at just one point in time without looking at changes in cardiovascular health.