Live to 90 with “Life’s Simple 7”

April 20, 2016 | by Andrew Rauh, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

Numbers drive much of what we do in healthcare. We as caregivers use a variety of methods to assess our patients — blood pressure, respiration rate, pulse, body temperature, blood glucose, cholesterol, and the list could go on and on — with almost all of them based on numerical values that allow us to make a diagnosis and determine how to treat someone or what advice to give.

With that in mind, I’m here to offer 1 set of guidelines: “How to Live to be 90 with Life’s Simple 7.” The goal is to assist you in being healthy, having a sharp mind and having fun. And, of course, each of these 7 tips has numbers associated with it!

  1. Zero smoking or tobacco products. Quitting the use of tobacco is the single most important thing a person can do to improve the length and quality of his or her life. This includes cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and smokeless tobacco. To help quit, talk to your doctor and sign up for a smoking cessation program.
  2. Eat 5 servings of fruit/vegetables a day. Figure out a way to mix these servings into breakfast, lunch, dinner and between-meal snacks so that you incorporate simple sugars into your diet, which your body processes more easily and naturally than the processed sugars that are included in so much of what we buy at the grocery story and get at fast food outlets.
  3. Exercise 30 minutes 5 days a week. You don’t have to be a triathlete or a marathoner. But, you do need to get out and move. This could be walking in your neighborhood or even gardening. Find something you enjoy and at an intensity that challenges you. If you haven’t been active in a while, check with your doctor first.
  4. Body Mass Index (BMI) 27 or below. This is a person’s percentage of body fat. A healthy body weight is one of the best ways to protect your heart. Obesity can lead to high cholesterol, diabetes and stroke. If your BMI is higher than 30, you should speak with a doctor about a plan for getting down to a healthier weight.
  5. Blood glucose less than 100 mg/dL. Keeping this level below 100 will help prevent pre-diabetes (100 – 125) or diabetes (126 and above), which can damage nerves and blood vessels, and lead to heart disease.
  6. Blood pressure less than 120/80. High blood pressure (140/90 and higher) is a major risk factor for heart disease. A well-balanced diet, including monitoring of your salt/sodium intake, and exercise can help reduce blood pressure. 
  7. Blood cholesterol 200 or below. High cholesterol (above 200 mg/dL) plays a major role in the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening and narrowing of the arteries, which in turn raises the risk of heart attack and stroke. Diet and exercise can help lower your overall cholesterol level. You also want to be aware of your HDL or “good” cholesterol, which should be 50 or above and your LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which should be less than 100 mg/dL.

There are no guarantees, but if you incorporate these 7 tips into your daily habits, you’ll improve your chances of living 1 healthy life until the time you’re 90 or older.

Learn more about being healthy driven.

Andrew Rauh, MD is a cardiologist with Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group and Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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