According to a recent study, maintaining healthy habits for the heart may slow biological aging by up to six years.
Growing evidence shows cardiovascular health affects all bodily systems, including cellular aging.
New research at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023 suggests that heart health impacts biological aging.
Researchers have found that better cardiovascular health is linked to slower biological aging. Maintaining good cardiovascular health can also increase lifespan and reduce the risk of age-related heart problems and other diseases.
According to Nour Makarem, Ph.D., a senior study author and assistant professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, the study found a dose-response relationship. This means that as heart health improves, biological aging slows down. Makarem explained to Health that this finding is particularly compelling.
After using the Essential Eight factors, the research team explored the connection between heart and brain health. The checklist includes:
- Eat better
- Be more active
- Quit tobacco
- Get healthy sleep
- Manage weight
- Control cholesterol
- Manage blood sugar
- Manage blood pressure
People with the highest score from the above checklist had an average biological age of six years younger than their chronological age.
Individuals with superior cardiovascular health had an average biological age of 36, while individuals with poor cardiovascular health had an average biological age of 57 despite their average chronological age being 53.
Individuals with superior cardiovascular health had a biological age of 36 against an average chronological age of 41. On the other hand, participants with poor cardiovascular health had an average biological age of 53, whereas their average chronological age was 57.
According to Makarem, making even small lifestyle changes such as improving diet, sleep, physical activity, and reducing nicotine use can be beneficial and significantly improve heart health.
Learn here what biological age tells you about your overall health, how aging is linked to cardiovascular health, and tips for heart-healthy habits.
Understanding What Biological Age Tells You About Overall Health
Your biological age indicates what’s happening inside your body on a cellular level.
According to Carly Goldstein, assistant professor at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a research scientist at the Miriam Hospital, Biological age, or phenotypic age, can reveal how old your cells are relative to your chronological age, which is how long you have been alive.
Goldstein explained that scientists use blood tests to understand where the biomarkers that impact biological aging line up.
Biomarkers are like little signals that provide insight into your health through factors such as inflammation and organ function. Together, these biomarkers indicate how your body is aging and its susceptibility to illness and death.
What Is Biological Age?
To find a person’s biological age, researchers consider chronological age—how old someone is—and certain physiological factors like metabolism, organ function, genetics, and lifestyle.
To determine a person’s biological age, researchers consider their chronological age, as well as certain physiological factors such as metabolism, organ function, lifestyle, and genetics.
The alignment of chronological and biological age varies among individuals.
Goldstein explained that individuals who are aging faster, which may occur when they live in very high-stressful environments or have more chronic illnesses, will have a more significant mismatch from their chronological age.
On the other hand, individuals who take excellent care of themselves can even slow down the aging process.
Connecting Cardiovascular Health and Biological Age
Makarem explained, “Cardiovascular disease and aging share common risk factors and underlying mechanisms.”
The new research reveals that certain risk factors that lead to heart disease can also speed up the body’s aging process.
Maintaining good heart health positively impacts aging, while poor heart health can have a negative ripple effect.
When you care for your heart health, you’re taking care of your overall health and increasing your chances of a long, happy life.
Cardiovascular health helps maintain your body’s cells and systems working as well as possible for as long as possible.
The factors that contribute to a healthy heart also appear to affect slowing down biological aging positively.
According to Harlan Krumholz, MD, professor of medicine (cardiology) at Yale School of Medicine told Health, people who take care to control risk factors like hypertension and lipidemia (cholesterol levels), get sufficient sleep, eat a good diet, exercise, and manage their weight, age much slower.
He explained that maintaining these biomarkers leads to longer life expectancy and higher overall function, contributing to a slower aging process.
Ultimately, cardiovascular health is directly related to sickness and death.
Ashish Sarraju, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, agrees, “Cardiovascular disease and metabolic health can affect vascular and organ function including the heart, brain, and kidneys in many ways, and so, cardiovascular disease is still a leading cause of morbidity and mortality.”
Therefore, managing cardiovascular risk factors is essential to fostering healthy lives,” he said.
How To Slow Down Biological Aging
Making healthy lifestyle changes to improve cardiovascular health is beneficial, no matter what your age is.
Goldstein stated that beginning today is better than postponing tomorrow or not starting at all. “Most people find that making small health changes can make a significant impact, and making a change in one area can positively spill over to another area of your life.”
For instance, getting more sleep may lead to more energy to exercise, better blood pressure, and less cravings for high salt or sugar foods, Goldstein suggested.
Your behavior can have an even more significant impact on the health of your heart than your genetics.
Become more active, eat a healthy diet, get good sleep, and try to reduce stress. Experts say whenever you begin these habits, you’re helping yourself.”
Sit down with a trusted healthcare professional to discuss the best ways to help you incorporate heart-healthy habits into your routine.
Gradual, sustained changes that will last should be prioritized rather than sudden, extreme changes that may not last.
- New research from Columbia University suggests that individuals with better cardiovascular health tend to age slower biologically.
- Researchers used a checklist of nine factors to determine how aging impacts cardiovascular health: diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep health, BMI, Cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
- Experts recommend developing healthy habits early in life to support biomarkers that affect biological age and overall health.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is an ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed the Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says, “Age is just a number!”
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is general and for information only because it doesn’t consider your health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalized health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should determine if the information is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.