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Sharp Health News

Do you know your heart age? (infographic)

Sept. 14, 2015

How do you respond when someone asks you your age? Are you tempted to shave a few years off the truth? What about when someone asks you about your "heart age"? Do you know what they mean? If not, take note: Knowing your heart age just might save your life.

Your heart age is the "age" of your cardiovascular system — your heart and blood vessels — based on your personal risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

Your optimal heart age should match or be lower than your actual age. However, according to recent findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three out of four adults in the U.S. — approximately 69 million people — have a calculated heart age that is older than their chronological age.

Do you know your heart age? (infographic). How old is your heart? Bad health habits can make you look older, but did you know they can age your heart, too? Couch potatoes beware. Simple factors like diet and lack of exercise can add years to your most valuable organ. If your chronological age is a car, your heart age shows how much it’s been driven and under what conditions, says Dr. Nassir Azimi, a cardiologist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital. For example, your car may be three years old, but if you drive mainly to work on the highway and have 20,000 miles on the odometer, your car’s age is younger than the one with 50,000 miles that’s been driven over mountains and dirt roads in Utah. Your age vs. your heart age. Let’s say you’re 45, in good shape, but have high blood pressure, are diabetic and have a few bad habits, including smoking. Your heart age would be 75. There are many ways you’ll age your heart, including these 7 ways: 1. High blood pressure. 2. High cholesterol. 3. Diabetes. 4. Smoking. 5. Poor diet without fruits and vegetables. 6. Lack of physical activity. 7. Obesity. Scary stats. Did you know that one in two men have a heart age five or more years older than their actual age? Two in five women have a heart age five or more years older than their actual age. Three in four heart attacks and strokes are due to risk factors that increase heart age. However, there’s hope. Gauge your heart’s age – and learn tips to help heal it – with the CDC’s handy online calculator found at www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heartage.

Experts recommend that you quit smoking, eat a healthy diet, exercise daily and take all medications as prescribed. If you are concerned about your heart age, discuss it with your doctor and together you can come up with continued ways to decrease your heart age and improve your heart health.

View the printable version of this infographic.

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