I've heard people talk about "heart age." What does that mean?

Answer From Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.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 and family history, as well as diet, physical activity and smoking. A younger heart age means a lower risk of heart disease.

The Heart Age Predictor is a free online tool that calculates your heart age. It was adapted from the Framingham Study Heart Age Calculator. The Heart Age Predictor is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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, don't smoke. If you do, get help to quit.

In addition, eating a healthy diet and being physically active can help you lower your heart disease risk factors by:

  • Lowering your blood pressure
  • Improving your cholesterol
  • Managing your weight
  • Controlling your blood sugar

The DASH and Mediterranean diets are heart-healthy ways to eat. You can start with small changes:

  • Include a vegetable at two meals and one snack each day.
  • Add a fruit at each meal.
  • Top salads with a small handful of nuts.
  • Swap beans for meat at one meal a week.
April 14, 2018