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Do You Know Your Heart Age?
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Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, Jennifer Fleming, MS, RD

Department of Nutritional Sciences

Penn State University

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a heart age calculator that determines your heart age based on gender, age, and major risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). These include blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes status, and body mass index (BMI), the latter of which is a measure of obesity.  About 75% of heart attacks and strokes are due to risk factors that increase heart age.  The majority of people (three out of four adults) have a heart age that is older than their actual age.  This translates to a higher risk of heart attacks and stroke.  Overall, average heart age for women is five years older than their chronological age and for men it is eight years.  On a positive note, heart age can be decreased by controlling major risk factors for CVD.  

The CDC is encouraging everyone to determine their heart age, and to take action to improve it, if necessary. Quitting smoking, lowering blood pressure by eating a healthy diet, taking medications, and exercising more are key strategies for reducing heart age.  To calculate your heart age, visit the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/cardiovasculardisease/heartage.html

Embedded in this web page is a calculator for determining your BMI, which is needed to calculate your heart age. Once you have determined your heart age, the calculator also will provide information about your 10-year risk of CVD. For information about how to decrease your heart age, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/ 

Also, visit Million Hearts at http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/resources/tools.html for more information about lowering your risk of heart disease (and heart age).  Good nutrition is important for keeping your heart healthy. Current guidelines recommend a dietary pattern that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nontropical vegetable oils, and nuts; and limits sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats.  

VEGETABLE AND FRUIT RECIPES

The natural antioxidants in fruits and vegetables will help keep your body working at its best and your heart young, so consuming a diet that meets your daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to give your body a strong defense against disease. Here two great recipes below:

BOK CHOY STIR FRY

GRAPES AND GRAINS

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9/26/2016
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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) patient advocacy organization with thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, health care providers, advocates and consumers committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. WomenHeart supports, educates and advocates on behalf of the 42 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease. Our programs are made possible by donations, grants and corporate partnerships.

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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a founding partner of The Heart Truth Red Dress campaign. The Heart Truth and Red Dress are trademarks of HHS.