Want to Live Long? Aim High on the Life Essential 8 Score Early in Life

Cardiovascular disease rates have not dropped significantly and are contributing to a drop in overall lifestpan in the United States. Better means to judge and improve cardiovascular health (CVH) are sorely needed.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently released an updated algorithm for evaluating CVH—Life’s Essential 8 (LE8) score.

Researchers aimed to quantify the associations of CVH levels, estimated by the LE8 score, with life expectancy in a sample of US adults.


The scientists included 23 003 participants aged 20 to 79 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2018 and whose mortality was identified through linkage to the National Death Index through December 31, 2019.

The overall CVH was evaluated by the LE8 score (range, 0–100).

In additoiin, the score for each component of of the LE8 was determined from information on the quality of diet, the amount of physical activity, tobacco/nicotine exposure, sleep duration, body mass index, non–high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (total cholesterol - HDL cholesterol), blood glucose, and blood pressure. Life table method was used to estimate life expectancy by levels of the CVH.


During a median of 7.8 years of follow-up, 1359 total deaths occurred.

The estimated life expectancy at age 50 years was 27 years, 33 years, and 36 years in participants with low (LE8 score <50), moderate (50≤ LE8 score <80), and high (LE8 score ≥80) CVH, respectively.

Equivalently, participants with high CVH had an average 8.9 more years of life expectancy at age 50 years compared with those with low CVH.

On average, 42.6% of the gained life expectancy at age 50 years from adhering to high CVH was attributable to reduced cardiovascular disease death.

Similarly significant associations of CVH with life expectancy were observed in men and women, respectively. Similarly significant associations of CVH with life expectancy were observed in White participants and Black participants but not in Mexican participants.


Adhering to a high CVH, defined as the LE8 score, is related to a considerably increased life expectancy in US adults and is simple and available online .

If starting at age 50 offers an average of 9 years of extended lifespan, imagine what would happen if the healthy lifestyles for optimal CVH were begun at age 20 or 30 years?

Dr. Joel Kahn

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