Young Arteries

October 24, 2017 in Health by Joyce Bunderson

A research fellow, Teemu J. Niiranen and his colleagues looked at arterial aging as an innovative and improved method to predict cardiovascular risk. They measured the stiffness of arteries to predict risk. One of the most interesting pieces of the study is that they found that “for the most part, stiff arteries didn’t seem to be associated with genetics.” They found that healthy lifestyles were what were mainly associated with healthy blood vessels.

The factors used to assess healthy lifestyle were the American Heart Association’s "Life's Simple 7" Those who met just six of the Life’s Simple 7 goals, were 10 times more likely to have healthy vascular aging, than those who did not meet any or only one.

The researchers even looked at which of the seven lifestyle behaviors were most strongly related with healthy vascular aging. Staying lean (healthy BMI) and avoiding type 2 diabetes were the two most important modifiable risk factors. [Note: for many, these two risk factors are closely related. If weight stays in the normal range, the risk of diabetes stays down too; not for everyone, but for most people.]

It’s definitely worth spending some effort on Life’s Simple 7 – If overweight, lose weight; keep your fasting blood sugar under 100 mg/dl; eat better; be physically active; manage blood pressure; control cholesterol; and avoid smoking (including second-hand smoke). If you have more than one area that needs improvement – start with reaching or moving toward a healthy weight. Helping our arteries age gracefully with worth the effort.