By Mark Waghorn

Sticking to eight simple habits can help us reach a ripe old age, according to new research.

They include eating healthily, not smoking and getting plenty of exercise and sleep.

An elderly woman taking a photo with her camera. Eight habits to take us into old age. TIAGO MURARO/SWNS TALKER

The others are maintaining normal weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.

Dubbed “Life’s Essential 8” (LE8), they hold the key to the mythical fountain of youth, say scientists.

Those who scored highest tended to live longer – and in optimal health.

The findings are based on studies of Britons and Americans who were tracked for decades.

Lead author Dr. Xuan Wang, of Tulane University, New Orleans, said: “Our study looked at the association of Life’s Essential 8 and life expectancy free of major chronic disease in adults in the United Kingdom.”

His team analyzed 136,599 participants whose health data was contained in the UK Biobank.

A logo of 8 simple habits for a long and healthier life. Those who scored highest tended to live longer – and in optimal health. COURTESY/SWNS TALKER

Wang said: “We categorized Life’s Essential 8 scores according to the American Heart Association’s recommendations, with scores of less than 50 out of 100 being poor cardiovascular health, 50 to less than 80 being intermediate and 80 and above being ideal.”

Scores of 80 and above are defined as “high cardiovascular health” by the Association. These individuals lived substantially longer.

Men and women at age 50 had an average 5.2 years and 6.3 years more of total life expectancy, respectively, when compared to peers in the “poor” category. They also lived longer without chronic disease.

Wang said: “Moreover, we found disparities in disease-free life expectancy due to low socioeconomic status may be offset considerably by maintaining an ideal cardiovascular health score in all adults.

“Our findings may stimulate interest in individual self-assessment and motivate people to improve their cardiovascular health.

“These findings support improving population health by promoting adherence to ideal cardiovascular health, which may also narrow health disparities related to socioeconomic status.”

Another study of more than 23,000 adults in the US found life expectancy was 83.4 years for those with ideal cardiovascular health, or scores of 80 or greater.

This fell to 75.3 for those with poor cardiovascular health, LE8 scores of less than 50 – 8.1 years less.

Lead author Dr. Hao Ma, also from Tulane, said: “We found that more than 40% of the increased life expectancy at age 50 from adhering to ideal cardiovascular health may be explained by the reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease death.”

Cardiovascular diseases are the world’s biggest cause of death globally – claiming around 18 million lives a year.

LE8 writing group leader Professor Donald Lloyd-Jones, of Northwestern University, Chicago, said: “What struck me about this abstract particularly was that there’s a massive jump going from individuals who have poor cardiovascular health to just intermediate levels of cardiovascular health.

“Overall, we see this seven-and-a-half-year difference going from poor to high cardiovascular health.

“That’s a huge difference in life expectancy, and I think what it tells us is that we need to try to move people and get them to improve their cardiovascular health in midlife, because that’s really going to have a major influence on their total life expectancy.”

He added: “These two abstracts really give us some nice new insight into how we can understand at different stages across the life course just how important focusing on your cardiovascular health is going to be, particularly using the new American Heart Association Life’s Essential 8 metrics.

“The cardiovascular health construct studied in these two abstracts really does nail what patients are trying to do, which is to find the fountain of youth.

“Yes, live longer, but more importantly, live healthier longer, and extend that health span so that you can really enjoy quality in your remaining life years.”

The studies were presented at an American Heart Association meeting in Boston.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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