Heart-healthy habits linked to longer life without chronic conditions

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A study found that heart-healthy lifestyle habits described in the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8, such as physical activity and quality sleep, are associated with a longer lifespan and more years spent free of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cancer. urbazon/Getty Images
  • The American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 is a concept that defines cardiovascular health based on four modifiable behaviors, such as physical activity and sleep, and four modifiable biometric measures, such as weight, blood glucose, and blood lipid levels, that impact cardiovascular health.
  • The composite cardiovascular health score measured using the aforementioned eight metrics can help clinicians measure and monitor cardiovascular health to prevent or treat cardiovascular diseases.
  • A recent study showed that an optimal composite cardiovascular score based on the Life’s Essential 8 metrics was associated with longer life expectancy free of chronic conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
  • An accompanying study showed that the decline in deaths due to cardiovascular disease contributed significantly to the increase in life expectancy associated with good cardiovascular health.

Two related studies recently presented at the American Health Association (AHA) conference suggest that optimal cardiovascular health (CVH) was associated with a longer chronic disease-free lifespan, reduced cardiovascular mortality, and increased total longevity.

These studies assessed CVH using the criteria defined by Life’s Essential 8, thus underscoring the validity and utility of cardiovascular health scores based on this construct as predictors of life expectancy and cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

Dr. Hao Ma, a biostatistical analyst at the Tulane University Obesity Research Center and an author of one of the studies, said:

“After decades of strong growth, the rise in US life expectancy has stagnated since 2010. The main reason for such a phenomenon is the poor cardiovascular health in the US population. Our

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Study population

UKB is a repository of research data sourced from ~ 500,000 UK-wide participants aged around 40–70 years old, recruited from 22 assessment centers during 2006–2010 [28]. We used data collected for each participant from enrollment to March 26, 2021. In brief, data in the UKB repository was grouped into 277 categories, and we retrieved those related to (i) socioeconomic factors (categories 100,066, 100,063, and 100,064); (ii) lifestyle factors (categories 100,058, 100,054, 100,052, 100,051, 100,057, and 143); (iii) environmental pollution factors (categories 114 and 115); (iv) health outcome factors (categories 2002, 100,074, 100,060, 137, and 100,092) (Additional file 1: Table S1) [29]. Note that although an individual’s SES and lifestyle may change over time, we used the baseline survey data to define the socioeconomic and lifestyle status of each participant. A research protocol for our study has obtained all necessary approvals from the UKB’s review committees. We accessed to the UKB cohort consisting of 502,462 individuals. Following Yang and Zhou [30, 31], we removed individuals: (i) who have sex mismatched; (ii) who are redacted and thus do not have a corresponding ID; (iii) who have missing information on socioeconomic factors or other covariates. Finally, we retained 412,258 participants in UKB for subsequent analysis (Fig. 1a).

Fig. 1

Flowchart of the participants selection in the UK Biobank (a) and US NHANES (b). SES socioeconomic status

In US NHANES, we included 101,316 participants surveyed from 1999 to 2018, and followed Zhang et al. to remove individuals: (i) who were less than 20 years old; (ii) who were pregnant; (iii) who had missing information on socioeconomic factors or other covariates; (iv) who had non-positive sample weights for an interview or health examination in the datasets [32]. Finally, we retained 45,671 participants in US NHANES for subsequent analysis (Fig. 

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