Life’s Essential 8: American Heart Association adds sleep to checklist

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A new advisory published by the American Health Association (AHA) now includes sleep quality as one of the essential factors for optimal cardiac health. The previous AHA advisory published in 2010 consisted of seven factors for assessing cardiac health, including physical activity, smoking, blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels, body mass index, and blood pressure.Four of the existing factors—diet, smoking, blood lipids and glucose—were updated to also include nicotine via e-cigarettes and vapes.

The advisory now also highlights the role of mental health and socioeconomic and cultural factors such as racial discrimination in influencing cardiac health.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 1 in 4Trusted Source deaths each year. Notably, adopting healthier lifestyle practices can reduce the risk of CVD by around 80%Trusted Source.

A recent AHA presidential advisory published in the journal CirculationTrusted Sourcedescribes 8 lifestyle and health factors called Life’s Essential 8 that could help preserve optimal heart health and prevent CVD.

The Original Construct The AHA publishes advisories that highlight the current state of knowledge on cardiovascular health and key areas for future research. Such advisories can help inform decision-making by clinicians and the formulation of healthcare guidelines. However, such advisories only serve to inform and are not guidelines.

An AHA advisory published in 2010 outlined the construct or concept of cardiovascular health (CVH) to help promote the maintenance of optimal heart health throughout a person’s lifetime. This construct emphasizes the prevention of CVD and the improvement of cardiovascular health.

The initial formulation of CVH included seven health factors and behaviors called Life’s Simple 7. These seven components included diet, physical activity levels, cigarette smoke exposure, body mass index (BMI), blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels.

According to threshold values defined by the AHA, an individual’s levels of each of these seven components were categorized as being poor, intermediate, or ideal. An individual with ideal CVH would have ideal levels of all seven components.

Numerous studies conducted since 2010 have shown that individuals with ideal CVH had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease Trusted Source. Moreover, studies suggest that optimal cardiovascular health is associated with a longer lifespan and better overall health, including a lower risk of dementiaTrusted Source, cancerTrusted Source, and kidney disease.

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