Americans Are Straight-Up Failing On Key Heart-Health & Longevity Metrics
It's no surprise that we aren't exactly the heart-healthiest nation in the world. Many people who grow up outside of the U.S. associate Americans with french fries, burgers, and soda.
The point is that there's a lot of room for improvement when it comes to American cardiovascular health. In fact, thanks to the American Heart Association's new guidelines for measuring heart-health metrics, "Life's Essential 8," a new study published in Circulation, has outlined exactly how much the average American can enhance their cardiovascular health, function, and longevity outcomes.
What are Life's Essential 8?
This past June, the AHA announced a face-lift of its original cardiovascular metrics ("Life's Simple 7," first developed over a decade ago in 2010) to account for social determinants of health and psychological health factors and include the entire life span. Limitations were eliminated from the old approach and the new-and-improved approach, which the AHA is calling "Life's Essential 8," includes eight key components to assess cardiovascular health:
- Physical activity
- Nicotine exposure
- Sleep health
- Body mass index (BMI)
- Blood lipids (you know, triglycerides and total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol)
- Blood glucose
- Blood pressure
Although "sleep health" is the only novel addition (and mindbodygreen is a big fan of this add-on, as quality sleep is vital to heart and overall health, something most Americans lack, and perhaps most importantly: a modifiable lifestyle factor that can be improved), the criteria for diet, nicotine exposure, blood lipids, and blood glucose have been updated to give Americans an accurate, modernized glimpse at their overall cardiovascular health.
Each component is given a grade between zero and 100 (sound familiar?) and a collective of all eight factors is calculated for one ultimate score.
How we scored: Heart health in the U.S.
The Circulation study evaluated data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to see how 23,409 healthy Americans (i.e., without specific heart health issues) aged 2 to 79 scored using the criteria and scoring methods of Life's Essential 8.
Not to get too technical, but NHANES uses fancy, weighted statistics (speaking of school...) to allow for a representative snapshot of the entire nation. So, how did we do?
Using the AHA's eight metrics, the average score for adults was 64.7, and, even more concerning, the average among children was 65.5. Translation? American adults failed and American children just barely passed—at some universities, that is.
(Though we'd argue that landing a D- is far from something to celebrate, especially when the "class" topic at hand is overall heart health and longevity. Yikes.)
There's tons of room for improvement when it comes to overall American heart health. Thankfully, all of the heart health metrics laid out by the AHA are modifiable! Taking actions to upgrade your sleep habits, diet, and exercise routine are easily attainable (and will certainly pay off in the long run).
Another easy and effective way to improve your heart health with daily intention? Take a high-quality omega-3 supplement like mbg's omega-3 potency+!*
With 1,500 milligrams of EPA plus DHA derived from sustainably sourced, wild-caught anchovies from the cold waters of the South Pacific, this premium fish oil delivers a high-potency dose of omega-3 fatty acids that help promote healthy blood flow (to the heart and the brain), help maintain healthy blood pressure, and support overall heart health and longevity.*
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.