News from the American Heart Association
WEDNESDAY, June 29, 2022 (American Heart Association News) — Adequate sleep is essential, and a widely used scoring system for heart and brain health is being redefined to reflect that.
Since 2010, the American Heart Association has said that seven modifiable components—maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, being physically active, eating a healthy diet, and controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar—are key to good health. ideal cardiovascular
Those components, called Life’s Simple 7, became a common way for doctors and patients to rate and discuss heart and brain health. It has also been a key research tool, used in more than 2,500 scientific articles.
Sleep duration joins those original seven metrics in a revised scoring tool, now called Life’s Essential 8, which was published Wednesday as an AHA presidential ad in Circulation magazine.
The update is much more than just adding sleep, said AHA President Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, who led the expert panel that wrote the advisory. The new score incorporates 12 years of research and improves your assessment of diet, exercise and more.
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“We hope this is actually an empowering moment, a moment of optimism for people to think positively about their health,” said Lloyd-Jones, a cardiologist, epidemiologist and chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern Feinberg University. Chicago Medical College. “And this is a good way to measure it today, monitor it over time, and focus on ways to maintain and improve it.”
Adults should average seven to nine hours of sleep a night, the advisory says. For children, the amount varies by age.
Lloyd-Jones, who led the creation of the original seven categories in 2010, said the importance of sleep was clear even then. But it was hard to agree on how to rate it, because sleep information wasn’t collected in large national databases.
“Now it is,” he said, and “science has shown us how sleep is integral to cardiovascular health.”
The advisory notes that both too much and too little sleep is associated with heart disease and that poor sleep health is linked to poor psychological health, a major driver of heart disease.
“And of course sleep affects the other seven metrics as well,” Lloyd-Jones said.
Cheryl Anderson, dean of the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, called Life’s Essential 8 “a big deal” for both health professionals and people who they want to understand their cardiovascular health.
Anderson, who co-wrote the ad, said the update is “a very good acknowledgment of how science has changed and our ability to adapt accordingly.”
The reviews introduce a 100-point measure of heart health, which can be taken online at www.heart.org/lifes8.
The new score replaces a 14-point scale and modifies several of the original categories.
Regarding smoking, for example, the old measure considered only the traditional consumption of cigarettes. The new score includes nicotine use and e-cigarette exposure, as well as the effects of secondhand exposure.
The new score also shifts from emphasizing total cholesterol in favor of measuring non-HDL cholesterol. It is now calculated by subtracting the “good” HDL cholesterol from the total cholesterol, leaving only a measure of the “bad” types of cholesterol. The new tool also expands how blood glucose can be assessed.
The system allows for a more accurate assessment of exercise levels, Lloyd-Jones said. And look at the diet in a new way. “Before, we had five very clunky yes-or-no metrics to say whether someone had a healthy diet or not. And that wasn’t really appropriate for all different kinds of eating patterns and cultures.”
Anderson said the new diet component rates how closely someone follows one type of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, diet.
But while the measure expands the foods tested, people shouldn’t focus on individual items, Anderson said. “We want to think about the whole package. There is no single food or nutrient that completely overhauls cardiovascular health.”
Some key components of heart health, such as stress, are not part of the new score.
“The stress is real,” Lloyd-Jones said. “It’s an important part of all of our lives. But it’s hard to measure how we internalize that stress and what the effect is on our health.”
The advisory discusses the importance of both psychological health and social and environmental factors known as social determinants of health, including whether someone has access to healthy food, medical care, or a safe place to exercise. But while Lloyd-Jones called them “essential” for heart health, he said those factors can’t be summed up into something that fits the scoring system.
The old scoring system ranked responses in its seven categories as “poor,” “intermediate,” or “ideal.” Less than 1% of people in the US across all age groups met the overall “ideal” level, mostly due to diet, the advisory says.
But for people who want to improve their heart health, the new approach makes progress easier to see. “The positive changes don’t have to be really big,” Anderson said. “They can be moderate. And you can still get credit for it within this new approach.”
Good heart health starts with talking to a doctor to find out how you’re doing in all eight categories, Lloyd-Jones said. Improvement in any of them helps.
“If I have three or four things out of eight that are suboptimal that I could work on, should I tackle three or four at a time? Absolutely not,” he said. “The data shows us that choosing and improving one thing will actually have a measurable impact on improving your health and health outcomes.”
So people shouldn’t feel overwhelmed, he said. “It really doesn’t matter which one you pick. Pick the one you’re going to be successful at. And that’s the way to advance your cardiovascular health.”
American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all opinions expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned by or owned by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email email@example.com.
By Michael Merschel, American Heart Association News
Originally published on consumer.healthday.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.