I've heard people talk about "heart age." What does that mean?
Answer From Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.
Heart age is a way to understand your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Your heart age is calculated based on your risk factors for heart disease, such as age, blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as diet, exercise and smoking. A younger heart age means a lower risk of heart disease.
One online tool that calculates heart age was adapted from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) and is available on the FHS website. To calculate your heart age, you'll need to know your body mass index (BMI) or your cholesterol levels.
If you're like most Americans, your heart age is older than your actual age. But you can lower your heart age by adopting a healthier lifestyle. To start, concentrate on making just one or two changes.
You can help lower your heart disease risk factors by:
- Quitting smoking if you're a smoker
- Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week
- Eating heart-healthy foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, and lean protein, especially fish
- Limiting salt
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Lowering your blood pressure
- Improving your cholesterol
- Managing your blood sugar if you have diabetes
April 28, 2022
Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Heart age: Is your heart older than you? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heartage/. Accessed March 8, 2022.
- Cardiovascular disease (10-year risk). Framingham Heart Study. https://framinghamheartstudy.org/fhs-risk-functions/cardiovascular-disease-10-year-risk/. Accessed March 8, 2022.
- Heart-healthy living. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-healthy-living. Accessed March 8, 2022.
- Bonner C, et al. Interventions using heart age for cardiovascular disease risk communication: Systematic review of psychological, behavioral, and clinical effects. Journal of Medical Internet Research Cardio. 2021; doi:10.2196/31056.