- AHA’s 2010 “Life’s Simple Seven” will now be “Life’s Essential Eight”
- Findings from 2,500 scientific papers since 2010 have led to the score being updated and an eighth risk factor added
- The main goal is to maintain better heart health for children in adulthood and throughout life
- Northwestern’s chairman of preventive medicine is president of the American Heart Association
CHICAGO — In 2010, the American Heart Association (AHA) defined “Life’s Simple 7MT“, the seven behaviors and health factors that people can improve to achieve optimal cardiovascular health. And now they’re adding an eighth: sleeping.
“Sleep is tied to each of the other seven elements – it’s closely tied to weight, blood pressure, glucose metabolism, what we choose to eat,” said AHA President Dr Donald Lloyd-Jones, chairman of the preventive health department. at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “But sleep is both correlated and also independent. New research shows that when we take the ancient seven and add sleep, we can even better predict cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Now called “Life’s Essential 8MT“, the AHA’s comprehensive list of important health factors includes managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, lowering blood sugar, maintaining a healthy weight, increasing physical activity, healthier eating, avoiding nicotine in all its forms and maintaining sleep duration.
Although some people have a harder time changing their sleep hygiene, such as those who work dual jobs or work night shifts, Lloyd-Jones said a big contributor to better cardiovascular health focuses on ways to get the healthiest amount of sleep (seven to nine hours a night on average) by avoiding caffeine, screens, and bright light several hours before bed, putting your phone away, and creating a more regular schedule.
An article on Life’s Essential 8 and the state of cardiovascular health in American adults and children will be published June 29 in Circulation, the AHA’s flagship journal.
“Healthier children become healthier adults”
A key part of the reinvigorated list of risk factors is the importance of measuring and monitoring children’s cardiovascular health and learning how to maintain it as they age, Lloyd-Jones said.
“When we create healthier children, they become healthier adults who then have healthier pregnancies, and the benefits continue, with their children being healthier simply because their parents were healthier,” said said Lloyd Jones. “We get this virtuous cycle of improving cardiovascular health generation by generation.”
Additional research published online in Circulation at the same time assessed the cardiovascular health of American children and adults. These results showed that as American children aged 2 to 5 reached the age group of 12 to 19, the healthy eating score dropped markedly from 61 to 28 (out of 100 points). possible).
“We lose a lot of cardiovascular health in eating habits as our children age through childhood and adolescence,” Lloyd-Jones said. “It doesn’t have to be, but we don’t serve them well…pun intended.”
He said school food programs focusing on healthier eating, improving the health of our food supply, helping children choose water over sugary drinks and taxing sugary drinks are strategies that the United States can adopt to maintain and improve cardiovascular health in children.
2,500 scientific articles since 2010
The introduction of “Life’s Simple 7” in 2010 was new, Lloyd-Jones said.
“No one had really tried to quantify health as a concept before this, and it’s transformed public health advocacy and for individuals to think about their long-term health,” said Lloyd-Jones, who is also a Northwestern Medicine cardiologist.
Since 2010, more than 2,500 scientific papers have been published on the AHA concept of heart health and what it means to improve health throughout life.
“We’ve learned a lot about the importance of having better cardiovascular health at every stage of life,” he said. “It affects your risk of stroke, heart attack, cancer, dementia, cognitive functioning, pretty much everything we care about.”
This “cutting edge research” paved the way for the addition of the eighth element of sleep.
More sensitive tools to measure heart health
In addition, since 2010, scientists have developed more sensitive tools to determine a person’s cardiovascular health, such as better questionnaires that measure the eating habits of different populations (i.e. DASH diet versus to the Mediterranean diet), Lloyd-Jones said. The new scoring system, he explained, will also give more credit to people who are striving to improve their cardiovascular health, which the old scoring system did not do well.
Two elements that affect cardiovascular health are not included in the measurement system: the social determinants of health and the characteristics of psychological health such as optimism, purpose in life, mastery of the environment, perceived reward of social roles and resilient coping. Scientists also know more about how the social determinants of health (education, neighborhood environment, community, economic security, access to health care) can influence a person’s chances of having better cardiovascular health. . Lloyd-Jones said that while policymakers, clinicians and individuals should be aware of these elements, they are difficult to quantify and therefore do not make the list of Life’s Essential 8.