AHA Updated Their Life’s Essential 8 – Here’s What You Need to Know

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently updated its list of Life’s Essential 8, a collection of the key measures that they define for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health. As we look to honor World Stroke Day on October 29, it’s important that we all take a look at this updated list to see what we can do to help lower our chances of developing heart disease, strokes and other major heart-related issues.

Below we will review Life’s Essential 8 as well as the newest updates to the list, which is broken out into two major categories: Health Behaviors and Health Factors.

Four Health Behaviors

Eat Better

Nutrition is a key component in maintaining a healthy heart. Just like the doctors at AHA, our physicians encourage our clients to have a healthy eating pattern that’s diverse and non-restrictive. Adding whole foods, fruits and veggies, lean protein, nuts and seeds can significantly improve your overall health thus decreasing your likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. For more information on how to eat smart for your heart, read this recent blog.

Be Active

The American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control recommend that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity. And kids and teens should aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. If you’re just beginning an exercise routine, we recommend consulting with a physician to set realistic goals and expectations. Check out our three favorite exercises to help prevent and manage heart disease here and view the AHA’s tips for success for more motivation.

Quit Tobacco & Vaping

This is one of the 8 essentials that received the largest update. AHA has always been a huge advocate in encouraging people to quit smoking for their overall health. But, with the recent rise in vaping and e-cigarettes, they had to add information about those products as well. While many of us were told that those products did not do any harm to our hearts or lungs, recent research has shown that is not the case.

Get Good Sleep

Quality sleep is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The AHA recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, while children require anywhere between 10-16 hours, depending on their age. Learn how to sleep your way to heart health here

Four Health Factors

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese can lead to a vatiety of health issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. If you are having difficulty managing and maintaining a healthy weight, we recommend consulting your general practitioner or a registered dietician. 

Managing Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure & Cholesterol

The final three health factors can be summarized into one paragraph. It’s very important to keep your blood sugar and pressure as well as your cholesterol within healthy limits for your body and age. On our blog, you will find several articles about each of these topics and what we recommend you do to manage them.

Resource: American Heart Association