How Old Are You, Really?
Even though you feel young at heart, your ticker is probably a lot older than you think. Studies show 44 percent of Nebraska and Iowa residents have a “heart age” five or more years greater than their actual age. That’s unsettling, considering people with older hearts are more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke – the leading causes of death in the U.S.
To find out your heart age, use the CDC’s online heart age calculator: www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/heartage.htm.
According to Matthew Halfar, MD, a primary care provider with CHI Health Clinic, “The ‘heart age’ calculator is a simplified version of a tool we use to determine the risk of a heart attack or heart disease. The good news is that it’s never too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle that will help reduce these risks.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a 50-year-old man could lower his heart age by 14 years by quitting smoking for a year. He could also take off another six years by controlling his blood pressure.
Reducing blood sugar, controlling cholesterol and eating healthier are helpful in addressing the other components of your cardiac risk. “And becoming more active has a huge impact on wellness,” Halfar said. “The more a person’s risk factors are reduced, the more reassuring the ‘heart age’ will be.” Just take the first step, encourages Halfar.
“Walking is one of the simplest ways to get active and stay active. For people who do not routinely exercise, I typically prescribe 30 minutes of walking three times per week. Start out at a comfortable, manageable pace and see where that takes you!”