The American Heart Association (AHA) recently revised its checklist for achieving optimal heart health, introducing its new Life’s Essential 8. The list replaces the AHA’s decade-old Life’s Simple 7.
Sleep health is the new addition to the cardiovascular health scoring tool, which now advises that adults get seven to nine hours per night. The organization updated four of the categories:
- Diet: More emphasis was given to following heart-healthy diets like the DASH and Mediterranean.
- Nicotine exposure: Secondhand smoke and vaping were added as risk factors.
- Blood lipids: People now can get a non-fasting blood sample that measures total, HDL, and non-HDL cholesterol. Non-HDL cholesterol can provide similar risk information as LDL cholesterol.
- Blood sugar: Measurements now include hemoglobin A1c, a key component to assessing type 2 diabetes risk.
- Three categories were unchanged:
- Physical activity: The optimal weekly level is at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.
- Body mass index (BMI): A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is ideal for heart health.
- Blood pressure: Levels less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) remain optimal. Stage 1 hypertension is 130 to 139 mm Hg for systolic pressure (the first number) or 80 to 89 mm Hg for diastolic pressure (the second number).
- You can calculate your heart health score at mlc.heart.org. The guidelines were published online June 29, 2022, by Circulation.