Healthy lifestyle may add 14 years to life span

A healthy lifestyle for seniors is inextricably tied to longevity, but new research assigns a specific number to the benefits. A recent study from Northwestern Medicine published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found individuals with a healthy heart in mid-life live an average of 14 years longer.

To arrive at this conclusion, researchers looked at participants in five separate studies that were part of the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project, a larger project aimed at assessing participants' risk for a variety of fatal and nonfatal heart conditions from the time they were 45 through 95.

They found a distinct correlation between having greater risk factors, including high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and diabetes, and enjoying a longer life. Compared to people who had at least two risk factors for cardiovascular disease, those with an optimal profile lived 14 years longer.

"We found that many people develop cardiovascular disease as they live into old age, but those with optimal risk factor levels live disease-free longer," said study author Dr. John T. Wilkins. "We need to do everything we can to maintain optimal risk factors so that we reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular disease and increase the chances that we’ll live longer and healthier."