Heart group lists seven essentials for longer life spans
Here are the seven secrets to a long life.
The Associated Press
American Heart Association's My Life Check: www.heart.org/MyLifeCheck
DALLAS — Here are the seven secrets to a long life: Stay away from cigarettes. Keep a slender physique. Get some exercise. Eat a healthful diet and keep your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar in check.
Research shows that most 50-year-olds who do that can live an additional 40 years free of stroke and heart disease, two of the most common killers, said Dr. Clyde Yancy, president of the American Heart Association. The heart association published the advice online Wednesday in the journal Circulation.
The group also introduced an online quiz to help people gauge how close they are to the ideal. Tips are offered for those who fall short.
"These seven factors — if you can keep them ideal or control them — end up being the fountain of youth for your heart," said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, a cardiologist who was lead author of the statement.
Specifically, those with ideal cardiovascular health can answer yes to the following seven questions:
• Never smoked or quit more than one year ago.
• Body mass index under 25.
• Get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
• Meet at least four of these dietary recommendations: eat 4 1/2 cups of fruit and vegetables a day; eat two or more 3.5-ounce servings a week of fish; drink no more than 36 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages a week; eat three or more 1-ounce servings of fiber-rich whole grains a day; consume less than 1,500 milligrams a day of salt.
• Total cholesterol of less than 200.
• Blood pressure below 120/80.
• Fasting blood glucose less than 100.
The heart association found that a recent survey showed 39 percent of Americans thought they had ideal heart health, yet 54 percent of those had been told they had either a heart-disease risk factor or needed to make a lifestyle change to improve heart health, or both.
With America's obesity epidemic, weight especially is a pitfall for patients trying to meet these seven health factors, doctors said.
Yancy, heart-association president and medical director of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute in Dallas, said the organization has a goal for 2020 of improving cardiovascular health of Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.
He said that in the past decade, there has been a nearly 40 percent reduction in death from heart disease and a nearly 35 percent reduction in death from stroke.
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