Sure, you know how old you are this year. But have you ever wondered how old your heart is? Turns out these numbers might not be the same, according to a report this week from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Curious how your ticker measures up to your actual age? Now, there’s a cool calculator to determine your ‘heart age,” a number which “gives a stark, simple picture of your future risk of having — or dying from — heart attack or stroke,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told the Associated Press.
If your results make your heart skip a beat, know that on average, U.S. adults have hearts that are seven years older than the age on their birth certificate, the CDC reports. And the usual culprits, such as smoking, high blood pressure, a history of diabetes or being overweight or obese, may be to blame for this differentiation. Plus, if you’ve got an unhealthy diet (we’re looking at you, fast food lovers) or tend to be physically inactive, you might be at risk for an ‘older’ heart, too.
Interestingly, certain areas of the country skew older in terms of heart age. Folks living in Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky and Alabama are more likely to have hearts that have aged five years faster than the rest of their bodies. Meanwhile, people living in Utah, Colorado, California, Massachusetts and Hawaii tend to fare better, the CDC says. (Anyone else want to move to Maui now?)
But if your heart age isn’t where it should be, we’ve got good news: There are some things you can do to help turn back time for your ticker. If you’ve got a bunch of risk factors impacting your heart, the CDC recommends choosing two to tackle first. Need advice? Chat with your doctor about how to make positive health changes. And don’t worry, no matter how old are you are IRL, you can still take action to reverse the clock for your heart, the CDC says. Get started right now with these five tips for setting a totally doable weight loss goal.