Study: Life’s Essential 8 could help you live healthier longer
03/06/2023 // Zoey Sky // Views

A recent study has found that eight simple but heart health-boosting habits can help you "live healthier longer."

A team of health experts working with the American Heart Association reported that "Life’s Essential 8" (LE8) could be the key to a disease-preventing "fountain of youth."

Life's Essential 8 is the American Heart Association's checklist for lifelong good health. It includes:

Have healthy eating habits

Follow a balanced diet and eat a lot of whole foods, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Choose lean protein, skinless poultry, fish and seafood.

If you're cooking at home, use healthy non-tropical oils like olive oil. Make good choices and opt for healthy swaps to develop an overall healthy eating style.

Limit your consumption of alcohol and sweetened drinks. Additionally, reduce your intake of full-fat dairy products, highly processed foods, red and processed meats, refined carbohydrates like added sugars and processed grain foods and sodium.

Always check nutrition labels. Learning how to read and understand food labels can help you make better choices for yourself and your family.

Watch your calorie intake. Make sure you eat only as many calories as you use up through physical activity. Learn about proper serving sizes and keep portions reasonable to avoid overeating and unhealthy weight gain.

Exercise regularly

The average adult needs a weekly total of at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or a combination of both. You can spread different activities throughout one week.


Build up your physical strength by including muscle-strengthening activities such as resistance or weight training at least two times a week.

Children and teenagers need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, including playtime and structured activities.

To meet your fitness goals, aim for realistic goals. Focus on making small but lasting changes to succeed.

Consistency is key when it comes to fitness. Once you reach your goals, don't stop. Gradually increase your activity and intensity to gain more health benefits.

Meet your fitness goals by finding new and different ways to be more active throughout the day. Use the stairs while going to work or walk part of the way home.

Do you have trouble sticking to a schedule? Try doing something active every day at the same time whenever possible to make it a regular habit. Put it on your schedule or set an alarm on your phone so you won't miss a day.

Quit smoking

Smoking is a bad habit, and it's also the most preventable cause of death in America. Alarmingly, it is linked to at least one-third of all deaths from heart disease and 90 percent of lung cancers.

Smoking damages the circulatory system and increases your risk of multiple diseases. Cigarettes, e-cigarettes and tobacco products, along with their smoke, vapor and liquids, contain many toxic chemicals.

Did you know that within one year after quitting, your risk of heart disease goes down by as much as 50 percent?

If you are a smoker, set a quit date within the next seven days.

Decide if you need help from a healthcare provider to quit. You can also try a nicotine replacement or medicine.

Prepare for your quit day by planning how to deal with any cravings and urges. Commit and quit on your quit day.

Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep every night is crucial to your cardiovascular health. Adults need at least an average of seven to nine hours of sleep while babies and children may need more depending on their age.

According to studies, sleeping too much or too little is linked to heart disease.

Maintain a healthy weight

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is linked to different health benefits. Healthy weight goals are also linked to your diet and fitness goals.

Body mass index (BMI), a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height, is a useful gauge for a healthy weight goal.

The optimal BMI is 25. If you don't know your BMI, calculate it online or consult a healthcare professional.

Control or reduce your cholesterol

High levels of non-HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or "bad," cholesterol can cause heart disease.

If you are worried about your heart health or your cholesterol levels, consult a healthcare professional. They can consider non-HDL cholesterol as the preferred number to monitor instead of total cholesterol because the former can be measured without fasting beforehand.

Manage your glucose (blood sugar)

Most of the food you eat is turned into glucose (blood sugar) that your body uses as energy.

Over time, high levels of blood sugar can harm your eyes, heart, kidneys and nerves. As part of testing, monitoring hemoglobin A1c can better reflect long-term control if you have diabetes or prediabetes.

Manage your blood pressure

If you want to live longer, keep your blood pressure within acceptable ranges. Levels less than 120/80 mm Hg are optimal.

High blood pressure is defined as 130-139 mm Hg systolic pressure (the top number in a reading) or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic pressure (the bottom number).

LE8 and life expectancy of British and American adults

The researchers who conducted the study reported that people who scored highest were more likely to live longer and avoided the onset of chronic diseases during that time.

Their findings are based on studies of British and American adults who were tracked for decades.

Dr. Xuan Wang, lead author and a postdoctoral fellow and biostatistician in the department of epidemiology at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, explained that their study examined the link between Life’s Essential 8 and life expectancy free of major chronic disease in adults in the United Kingdom.

Wang's team analyzed 136,599 volunteers. Their health data were part of the UK Biobank.

The researchers categorized Life's Essential 8 scores based on the American Heart Association's recommendations:

  • Scores of less than 50 out of 100 indicated poor cardiovascular health
  • Scores 50 to less than 80 indicated intermediate cardiovascular health
  • Scores 80 and above indicated ideal cardiovascular health

Poor heart health can significantly reduce your lifespan

For the study, scores of 80 and above were considered "high cardiovascular health." Participants with these scores lived substantially longer than others in the study.

Men and women aged 50 had an average 5.2 years and 6.3 years of increased total life expectancy, respectively, compared to their peers in the "poor" category.

The men and women also lived longer without chronic disease. (Related: Walking for 5 minutes every half hour can help you stay healthy if you sit all day, reveals study.)

Wang's research team also observed "disparities in disease-free life expectancy due to low socioeconomic status" that may be offset considerably by maintaining an ideal cardiovascular health score among all adults.

The study results could "stimulate interest in individual self-assessment" and motivate more people to improve their heart health. These findings support improving population health by promoting "adherence to ideal cardiovascular health, which may also narrow health disparities related to socioeconomic status," added Wang.

Data from another study of over 23,000 adults in America showed that life expectancy was 83.4 years for people with ideal cardiovascular health or scores of 80 or greater. Life expectancy went down to 75.3 among people with poor cardiovascular health or LE8 scores of less than 50.

Dr. Hao Ma, lead author, a co-author on Wang’s study and a postdoctoral fellow and biostatistician in epidemiology at Tulane University, said that over 40 percent of the increased life expectancy at age 50 from following ideal heart health-boosting practices may be explained by the reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease death.

Cardiovascular disease is the world's leading cause of death globally

Professor Donald Lloyd-Jones, LE8 writing group leader from Northwestern University, noticed that there was a significant increase going from people with poor cardiovascular health to just intermediate levels of cardiovascular health.

Lloyd-Jones explained that overall, there was a seven-and-a-half-year difference going from poor to high cardiovascular health. This significant difference in life expectancy suggests that it is important to educate the public on how to be more active and to get them to improve their heart health in mid-life since this can have a major influence on their total life expectancy.

The two abstracts cited give researchers new insight into how they can learn more at different stages across the life course "just how important focusing on your cardiovascular health is going to be," particularly using the new American Heart Association LE8 metrics, said Lloyd-Jones.

The cardiovascular health constructs studied in these two abstracts highlights how many people are trying to find the "fountain of youth."

While it is important to live longer, it is more important to "live healthier longer" and "extend that health span so that you can really enjoy quality in your remaining life years," concluded Lloyd-Jones.

Watch the video below to know more about the benefits of detoxing for optimal health.

This video is from the Health Ranger Store channel on

More related stories:

Study: Strength training for at least 30 to 60 minutes a week helps boost longevity.

Here are 4 good reasons to eat bananas every day.

Here are 4 reasons to include tree nuts in your diet.

Sources include: 1 2 3 4

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