In 2010, the American Heart Association (AHA) introduced the concept of Life’s Simple 7 to define ideal cardiovascular health. This proposal was a major paradigm shift, which moved the focus from cardiovascular disease risk management to the promotion of cardiovascular health. Among the Life’s Simple 7’s criteria, we find not only biological risk factors (healthy blood pressure, blood lipids and blood glucose), but also lifestyle risk factors (physical activity, absence of smoking, healthy diet and body weight). Results of many epidemiological studies have since documented the importance of this tool to discriminate health risk. It was also found that a very low proportion of individuals met the 7 criteria required for ideal cardiovascular health (<1%).
To further promote heart and brain health, the AHA recently updated its Life’s Simple 7 prescription tool to include sleep duration as an additional essential feature of cardiovascular health. The tool is now referred to as Life’s Essential 8 and all updates and modifications were recently published in an AHA Presidential Advisory. Other changes to the various components include a dietary screening tool named the Mediterranean Eating Pattern for Americans (MEPA), non-HDL cholesterol levels, vaping and second-hand tobacco smoking as well as casual HbA1c. One of the major enhancements proposed in the Life’s Essential 8 is the calculation of a global score ranging from 0 to 100 points established according to the mean of scores obtained for each of the 8 criteria (cardiovascular health score).
It is hoped that additional efforts will be put into implementing the Life’s Essential 8 approach so that everyone can have the opportunity to enjoy healthy lives for as long as possible. An approach such as the one proposed in this recent AHA Presidential Advisory is certainly an additional step in the right direction.