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Dr. Tori Hudson, Portland, Oregon, Blog Healthline Blog

Healthy lifestyle on eating clean food good health dietary in heart dish with aerobic body exercise, gym workout training class , weight scale and sports shoes in fitness center“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.”

These “other major health problems” are no small matter either – such as, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and dementia.  The American Heart Association (AHA) deserves a lot of credit for promoting this message and working to educate folks on these essentials:


Eat better

More active

Nicotine free

Healthy sleep (7-9 hours)

Manage weight

Control cholesterol

Manage BP

Manage blood sugar


As a childhood/young adult athlete and a 1970s food and health nut, I adopted healthy habits from a young age; no small accident that I became a Naturopathic Physician and have been living this mantra in my personal and professional life since 1984.

These essential 8 measures are key lifestyle recommendations of naturopathic medicine.  You can also learn more from the AHA at:


Here are a few more details from each of the 8, from the website:

1. Eat Better

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.

2. Be More Active

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.

3. Quit Tobacco

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.

4. Get Healthy Sleep

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.

5. Manage Weight

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.

6. Control Cholesterol

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.

7. Manage 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.

8. Manage 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).


According to a recent study, using these Essential 8 as metrics, for those who scored high on these metrics, meaning beneficial habits, they had a longer life expectancy, and perhaps more importantly a longer life free of chronic disease (cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia).  Women who had a high score on these metrics had an extra 9.5 years free of chronic disease and men had an extra 7 years free of chronic disease.

These benefits were true and similar regardless of socioeconomic level, educational background, income level and the Townsend deprivation score (measure of adversity).

In short, we can change our future, change our life, if we work to achieve a high degree of success on these Essential 8.  “Let’s Do It”

Take care.

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