heart health


Roundup: Optimal Heart Health Slows Aging by 6 Years; High Salt Diet Now Linked to Diabetes Risk; and More News

Following Optimal Heart Health’s ‘Essential 8’ Checklist Can Slow Aging by 6 Years

Instead of a calendar to assess the chronological age of an individual, there is “phenotypic age” – more commonly referred to as “biological age” – which is based on the results of nine blood markers that examine metabolism, inflammation and organ function. The goal is to have a biological age that is younger than your actual age.

High cardiovascular health — as measured by the American Heart Association’s "Life’s Essential 8" checklist — slows biological aging by at least six years, according to a preliminary study presented this month at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023

The findings came after an analysis of more than 6,500 adults. After accounting for social, economic and demographic factors, having the highest Life’s Essential 8 score (high cardiovascular health) was associated with having a biological age that is on average six years younger than the individual’s actual age, when compared to having the lowest score (low cardiovascular health).

Study participants were an average age of 47 years; 50 percent were women; and were self-identified as -- 6 percent Asian adults, 10 percent Black adults, 16 percent Hispanic adults and 64 percent white adults, states the American Heart Association (AHA).

“Greater adherence to all Life’s Essential 8 metrics and improving your cardiovascular health can slow down your body’s aging process and have a lot of benefits down the line,” said study senior author Nour Makarem, Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, in a statement. “Reduced biologic aging 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.”

The AHA’s “Life’s Essential 8” is a checklist of healthy lifestyle measures that drive optimal cardiovascular health. The 8-item scoring tool includes healthy sleep, not smoking, regular physical activity, healthy diet, healthy body weight, and blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure. A person’s overall score is calculated using an average of all eight metrics, resulting in scores within three categories: high, moderate or low cardiovascular health.

High Consumption of Salt Linked to a Higher Risk of Diabetes, New Research Finds

It’s fairly well known that a diet high in salt is a risk factor for high blood pressure and related chronic diseases. A new study adds a higher risk of diabetes to the list of health hazards linked to too much salt.

Research from Tulane University published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that frequently adding salt to foods was associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers concluded that more studies are needed to determine why high salt intake could be linked to a higher risk of diabetes.

However, the study’s authors say they believe the cause may be that salt encourages people to eat larger portions, increasing the chances of developing risk factors such as obesity and inflammation – both of which can contribute to a diabetes diagnosis. The study found an association between frequent consumption of salt and higher BMI and waist-to-hip ratio.

“We already know that limiting salt can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension, but this study shows for the first time that taking the saltshaker off the table can help prevent Type 2 diabetes as well,” said lead author Lu Qi, M.D., professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, in a statement.

Researchers surveyed more than 400,000 adults registered in the UK Biobank about their salt intake. Over a median of 11.8 years of follow-up, more than 13,000 cases of diabetes developed among participants. Compared to those who “never” or “rarely” used salt, participants who “sometimes,” “usually,” or “always” added salt had a respective 13 percent, 20 percent, and 39 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.

In a news release on the study, Dr. Qi said it’s never too early to start searching for low-sodium alternatives as seasonings for foods consumed regularly. “It’s not a difficult change to make, but it could have a tremendous impact on your health,” Dr. Qi added.

International Study: 8,000 Daily Steps Reduces Risk of Premature Death

The widely held belief is that taking at least 10,000 steps a day is best for optimal health. But the minimal ideal number of steps may not be that high, previous studies have found. The latest research, carried out by teams from the Netherlands (Radboud University Medical Center), Spain (Universities of Granada and Castilla-La Mancha), and the United States (Iowa State University), points to a lower number of steps: 8,000 – with 7,000 to 9,000 steps a day being a suitable range.

The new study also shows that the pace at which one walks has additional benefits, and that it is better to walk fast than slow. The researchers also found that even 7,000 steps daily can prevent the risk of early death from cardiovascular disease.

The international team of researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of data from 12 global studies involving more than 110,000 participants. The results, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, are similar to other recent studies which show that health benefits are obtained at less than 10,000 steps.

The researchers stated: “In this study, we show that measurable benefits can be obtained with small increases in the number of steps per day, and that for people with low levels of physical activity, every additional 500 steps improve their health. This is good news because not everyone can walk almost 9,000 steps a day, at least not at first. So, you can set small, reachable goals and gradually make progress and increase the number of steps per day.”

The study’s authors point out that 10,000 steps (equivalent to about 5 miles) a day remains an excellent goal for optimal health.

“More steps are never bad,” said Francisco B. Ortega, a professor at the University of Granada’s Department of Physical Education and Sports and the study’s lead author, in a statement. “Our study showed that even as many as 16,000 steps a day does not pose a risk; on the contrary, there are additional benefits compared to walking 7,000-9,000 steps a day, but the differences in risk reduction are small. Furthermore, the step target should be age appropriate, with younger people being able to set a higher target than older people.”

For substantial health benefits, U.S. guidelines call for adults to get at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging or cycling. Adults should also do some muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

Language Preference / Preferencia de idioma

I want to see the site in English

Continue In English

Quiero ver el sitio en Español

Continuar en español