The American Heart Association has recently updated their 2010 guidelines for Cardiovascular Health for Americans, which was called Life’s Simple 7. The new guidelines are called Life’s Essential 8.


(1) Food (your diet)—Mediterranean Style Eating Pattern

(2) Physical Activity—150 minutes or more of moderate exercise per week

(3) Nicotine Exposure—Avoidance

(4) Body Mass Index—BMI less than 25

(5) Cholesterol—Non-HDL Cholesterol (mostly LDL) less than 130 mg/dl

(6) Blood Glucose—No history of Diabetes and Fasting Glucose less than 100 (or A1C less than 5.7)

(7) Blood Pressure—Less than 120/80 is Optimal

(8) Sleep Health (the new 8th Component)—Optimal is between 7-9 hrs


The goal of the updated recommendations is to add strategies that promote the health of individuals and the US population as a whole. Doing well in all 8 health components will contribute to better cardiovascular wellness and improve quality of life. However, it is OK to try to achieve small improvements in the different areas. It is not necessary to try to reach every goal at once.


Some strategies to consider: include more fresh fruit and vegetables in daily meals/snacks, reduce high sodium seasonings when cooking, choose lower sugar beverages, go for a walk several days each week, get to bed earlier, avoid nicotine and second hand smoke as much as possible.