Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States and globally. To help Americans make meaningful lifestyle changes, the American Heart Association introduced Life’s Essential 8, a checklist that explains eight habits and health measures that affect heart health.
A heart-healthy diet encompasses a high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy and lean protein.
For most adults, the target level of moderate physical activity (such as walking) is 150 minutes or more per week or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity physical activity.
Nicotine makes your heart rate and blood pressure skyrocket while carbon monoxide and tobacco rob your heart, brain and arteries of oxygen.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to cardiovascular health. Measured by average hours of sleep per night, the optimal level is 7-9 hours daily for adults.
Non-HDL (“bad”) cholesterol, rather than total cholesterol, is a reasonable predictor of cardiovascular risk. Also, when the body does not use insulin efficiently, blood glucose levels accumulate in the bloodstream.
An optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg while hypertension is defined as a 130-139 mm Hg systolic pressure (the top number in a reading) or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic pressure (bottom number).