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Is Your Heart Aging Faster Than the Rest of Your Body?

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It turns out "young at heart" isn't just a phrase—your heart doesn't necessarily age the same way your body does. The age of your ticker might actually be a lot different than the age on your driver's license, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (You can calculate your heart age here if you're between 30 and 74 years old.)

But for most of us, this isn't good news. The study reveals that a whopping 75 percent of Americans have a heart age older than their real age and 40 percent of women have a heart age five or more years older than their actual age. Yikes—someone pass us a drink from the fountain of youth STAT. (But, FYI, Biological Age Matters More Than Birth Age.)

Researchers analyzed data from every state and found that 69 million adults in the U.S. are operating with hearts older than they are, with the most notable discrepancy in southern states. And, in most case, it's due to entirely manageable and preventable reasons: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, or diabetes.

So why should we care if our heart is aging faster than the rest of our body? The age of your heart is responsible for a lot of health risks. If your heart is older than your chronological age, you could be at greater risk for a slew of health issues like heart attacks and strokes.

But fear not, your heart isn't doomed to an early retirement. While some factors contributing to heart age are genetic, many of the factors contributing to an aging heart are lifestyle choices that you can control. To lower your heart age, keep your cholesterol in check, maintain an active lifestyle, eat healthy, make sure your blood pressure is in a healthy range, and whatever you do, stop smoking.

As a general rule, a healthy life means a healthy heart. So until we actually do discover the fountain of youth, make sure you're making choices that will keep your heart, not just your body, young. (But Life Expectancy Is Longer for Women Worldwide, so...silver lining?)

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