Are You Following Steps to Live a Long Healthy Life?

By , SparkPeople Blogger

As I was working yesterday, I heard a news report about a new heart health program by the American Heart Association. With an older brother that has already suffered a mild heart attack as well as a grandmother that died of heart related issues, I was interested in the report and set out to learn more.

By evaluating seven key health areas, setting goals for those areas where we fall short and establishing a plan to improve, all adults can improve their cardiovascular health according to the American Heart Association. To help people accomplish this, they have developed a seven step assessment tool. The tool will help people from ages 2-99 to:

  • Understand current levels of cardiovascular health

  • Assess individual health needs

  • Commit to steps to improve health and quality of life

  • Move closer to personal health goals
How can this assessment help you?

The 'Life's Simple 7' assessment process is straightforward --answer simple questions, choose an action plan for each area, and discover your cardiovascular health rating by receiving a score between 1 and 10. If you achieve an 'excellent' rating in all areas, the AHA believes you would be at your 'ideal' cardiovascular health. The 'Simple 7' goals to achieve ideal cardiovascular health include :

  • Never smoked or quit more than a year ago.

  • Body mass index less than 25.

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise each week.

  • A healthy diet including at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day, low sugar intake, a sodium intake of less than 1,500 mg, 2-3 servings of fish each week. (ETA - 3 daily servings of fiber rich whole grains -- which was inadvertantly left out.)

  • A total cholesterol of 200 or lower.

  • A blood pressure below 120/80.

  • A fasting blood sugar of 100 or lower.
I was curious what my score would be since I am active and eat well but am not perfect and do take prescription medication. I completed the assessment and received a 7.5 out of 10 because of my weight, the fact that I answered that I don't always get 2-3 servings of fish each week, don't consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium and entered a blood pressure from my last doctor visit that was borderline. If I changed the blood pressure, my score improved to 9.2 out of 10.

The American Heart Association initiated this new program because they have a long-term goal of improving U.S. cardiovascular health by 20 percent and reducing cardiovascular disease and stroke deaths by 20 percent by 2020.

What is your score and do you have a plan and support system in place to help you improve it?