Heart health can improve health towards the end of life, reports Reuters.
The researchers looked at heart health during younger years, categorizing participants according to whether they had one or more heart risk factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol or body mass index (BMI, a measure of weight relative to height, and whether they had diabetes or smoked.
Six percent of the participants had none of these risk factors in early adulthood and middle age, 19 percent had elevated readings of one unfavorable factor, 40 percent had one risk factor measurement that was high and 35 percent had two or more high risk factor measurements.
People with none of these problems were considered to have “favorable” cardiovascular health. With one or more, their heart health was rated as less and less favorable. Researchers also looked at Medicare claims for treatments associated with any of the unfavorable conditions.
They found that people with favorable heart health at younger ages lived about four years longer altogether, survived about five years longer before developing a chronic illness such as cancer or heart failure and spent 22 percent less of their senior years with a chronic disease compared to people with two or more heart risk factors earlier in life. They also saved almost $18,000 in Medicare costs.
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