Every person deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life. Addressing the drivers of health disparities, including the social determinants of health, structural racism, and rural health inequities, is the only way to truly achieve equitable health and well-being for all.
The American Heart Association recently introduced a new guiding resource called Life’s Essential 8™ which provides eight key measures that can lead to a lifetime of good health. Life’s Essential 8 identifies the eight most important factors for cardiovascular health, four of which are health behaviors and four that are health factors. It is designed to recognize the fact that the mind, heart and body are connected, factors that affect one can certainly affect the other two. The Essential 8 components really are that ‘science-based recipe’ for a longer, healthier life.
There is an urgent need to address health in rural America as overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality are on the rise in rural counties. Using Life’s Essential 8 can help guide patients to live their best life, to prevent heart disease and other chronic conditions.
→ Register for our April Friday Focus 4 Health Series where we will feature this initiative and tools/resources for patients and residents. In the first session (April 7), we will hear from Tim Nikolai, Senior Rural Health Director for the American Heart Association.
The 8 Measures Include:
- 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.
- Be More Active: Adults should get 2 1/2 hours of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Kids should have 60 minutes every day, including play and structured activities.
- Quit Tobacco: Inhaling nicotine delivery products, including traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaping, is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. About a third of U.S. children are exposed to secondhand smoke or vaping.
- Get Healthy Sleep: Most adults need 7 to 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.
- Manage Weight: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has many health benefits.
- Control Cholesterol: High levels of non-HDL, or “bad,” cholesterol can lead to heart disease.
- Manage Blood Sugar: Most of the food we eat turns 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.
- Manage Blood Pressure: Keeping your blood pressure within acceptable ranges can keep you healthier longer. Levels less than 120/80 mm Hg are optimal.
Friday Focus 4 Health: April Series – Life’s Essential 8: Tools for Optimal Patient and Resident Health
Our Friday Focus 4 Health April Series will feature the Life’s Essential 8 guidelines, tools and application to improve quality and health outcomes for our patients and residents in the Dakotas.