Life's Essential 8™
Life's Essential 8™
Your checklist for lifelong good health
Life’s Essential 8 are the key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health, as defined by the American Heart Association. Better cardiovascular health helps lower the risk for heart disease, stroke and other major health problems.What’s new in 2022:
- Adds sleep as a component of heart health.
- Creates a new guide to assess diet.
- Accounts for vaping and secondhand smoke.
- Adjusts cholesterol and blood sugar measures.
- Scores each component to average an overall heart health score on a scale from 0-100.
Life’s Essential 8 comprises two major areas:
Health Behaviors and Health Factors
Learn more about all 8
Aim for an overall healthy eating pattern that includes whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and cooking in non-tropical oils such as olive and canola.
Learn how to eat better with our fact sheet.
2. Physical Activity
Adults should get 2 ½ hours of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Kids should have 60 minutes every day, including play and structured activities.
Learn how to move more with our fact sheet.
3. Nicotine Exposure
Use of inhaled nicotine delivery products, which includes traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaping, is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., including about a third of all deaths from heart disease. And about a third of U.S. children ages 3-11 are exposed to secondhand smoke or vaping.
Learn how to stop smoking with our fact sheet.
4. Sleep Duration
Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Children require more: 10-16 hours for ages 5 and younger, including naps; 9-12 hours for ages 6-12; and 8-10 hours for ages 13-18. Adequate sleep promotes healing, improves brain function and reduces the risk for chronic diseases.
Learn how to get adequate sleep with our fact sheet.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has many benefits. Body mass index, a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height, is a useful gauge. Optimal BMI is 25. You can calculate it online or consult a health care professional.
Learn to lose or manage weight with our fact sheet.
High levels of non-HDL, or “bad,” cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Your health care professional can consider non-HDL cholesterol as the preferred number to monitor, rather than total cholesterol, because it can be measured without fasting beforehand and is reliably calculated among all people.
Learn how to control cholesterol with our fact sheet.
7. Blood Sugar
Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use as energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. As part of testing, monitoring hemoglobin A1c can better reflect long-term control in people with diabetes or prediabetes.
Learn how to control blood sugar with our fact sheet.
8. Blood Pressure
Keeping your blood pressure within acceptable ranges can keep you healthier longer. Levels less than 120/80 mm Hg are optimal. High blood pressure is defined as 130-139 mm Hg systolic pressure (the top number in a reading) or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic pressure (bottom number).
Learn how to manage blood pressure with our fact sheet.
My Life Check can help
Now that you know about Life’s Essential 8, use My Life Check, an online tool to assess your own heart health and better understand your risk for heart disease and stroke.