Are You Young (or Old) at Heart?
Heart age defines your risk of heart attack, based on several factors. Most Americans have a heart that’s “older” than their actual age, but it’s never too late to lower it.
You might look (or feel) young for your age. But does your heart?
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If you’re like 75 percent of Americans, your heart is aging faster than you, says a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The “older” your heart, the higher your risk for heart attack or stroke.
The study found that one in two U.S. men and two in five U.S. women have a heart age 5 or more years older than their actual age. On average, Americans’ heart ages are 7 years older than they should be.
Some demographic groups fared worse than others. For example, heart ages of African American men and women are an average of 11 years older than their actual ages.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” says Cleveland Clinic cardiologist David Frid, MD. “We’ve known all along that people’s risk of heart disease is higher than they’d expect. And that’s because people have a lot of risk factors.”
Heart health risk, or heart age, is determined by a number of factors, including:
“Some factors, like family history, you can’t change,” says Dr. Frid. “But there are many other factors you can.”
You’re never too old to change your risk factors, he says. You can reduce your heart risk — and heart age — at any point.
Learn your heart age by taking this simple test. A good heart age is one that’s the same as or younger than your actual age.
“Knowing your heart age is the first step to lowering it, if needed,” says Dr. Frid. “If your heart age is higher than you’d like, choose one or two risk factors to begin improving. You don’t have to do it alone. See your doctor for help and advice.”