Study Confirms Lower Heart Failure Risk for Higher Cardiovascular Scores

The study found for each one-point higher cardiovascular health score, there was a 23 percent lower risk of developing heart failure. Those scoring in the middle third cut their risk of heart failure nearly in half versus those in the bottom third, while those in the top third reduced their risk even further.

People who score well on the American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7 checklist for a healthy heart are less likely to develop heart failure, according to new research in AHA's journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

The checklist consists of seven measures people can use to rate their heart health and take steps to improve it: manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, get physically active, eat better, lose weight, and stop smoking.

According to AHA, researchers analyzed data from the Framingham Offspring Study and evaluated the association between the Simple 7 and heart failure, following 3,201 participants (average age 59) for up to 12.3 years. During that time, 188 participants developed heart failure. They found for each one-point higher cardiovascular health score, there was a 23 percent lower risk of developing heart failure. Those scoring in the middle third cut their risk of heart failure nearly in half versus those in the bottom third, while those in the top third reduced their risk even further.

"Even though there is awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, many people don't act on those messages," said Vanessa Xanthakis, Ph.D., senior author and assistant professor of medicine and biostatistics at Boston University. "This study points to the importance of knowing your numbers and speaking to your doctor about improving your score on each health metric and trying to get as close to ideal status as possible."

The authors noted two limitations of the study: Most participants were white and of European ancestry, and their Life's Simple 7 score was assessed only once, at the beginning of the study. The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

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