Healthy Living — The Essential 8 of Cardiovascular Health

Healthy Living — The Essential 8 of Cardiovascular Health

Source: American Heart Association

We may all be familiar with the concept of genetic illnesses that can cause health difficulties, such as cardiovascular health, for patients for the rest of their lives. In fact, we live in a world in which the media loves to talk about health factors that are outside our control. This is because fear sells, and nothing catches the eye more than the idea of the inevitability of living with health difficulties beyond our control.

However, science tells us otherwise. In fact, research demonstrates that there are plenty of modifiable lifestyle factors that can determine the quality of our health, even in genetic illnesses that currently do not have a cure. 

The Importance of Heart Health

Let’s talk about heart health. Heart disease is particularly relevant when discussing health in general because it can often act as a sort of barometer that yields incredible insights about your overall health and well-being.

One of the root causes of cardiovascular disease is when plaques start to build up in your blood vessels. These plaques can be made up of cholesterol, fat, and bits of other substances. As time progresses, these plaques can cause the blood vessels to narrow and harden. This can cause problems such as heart attacks, heart failure, arrhythmias, and even death.

Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease

The American College of Cardiology has a neat infographic about the known 7 essential factors that increase your risk of heart disease.

Cardiovascular Risk Factors
Source: CardioSmart / American College of Cardiology

In this infographic, it is clear that there are 7 modifiable risk factors that can contribute to heart disease. Note the word “modifiable”: this implies that these risk factors can be lowered if you take proactive steps with your physician/nutritionist to tackle them seriously to stay in the normal zone.

Cardiovascular Risk Factors 2
Source: CardioSmart / American College of Cardiology

The 8th Risk Factor of Cardiovascular Health

A recent update according to the American Heart Association, has added the lack of adequate habitual sleep, which in adults is 7-9 hours, as the 8th risk factors for heart health.

Scientists around the world have been devoting much time and resources to study sleep science and how it relates to our health. Many of our fitness accessories (such as fitness trackers) now have a function that allows you to track the duration and quality of your sleep. 

Sleep is an essential time for the body to recuperate. During the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep stages, heart rate slows, blood pressure drops, and breathing stabilizes. These changes reduce stress on the heart, allowing it to recover from strain that occurs during waking hours.

Without sufficient nightly sleep, a person doesn’t spend enough time in the deep stages of NREM sleep that benefit the heart. The same problem can affect people whose sleep is frequently interrupted. As a result, chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to numerous heart problems including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, obesity, diabetes, and stroke. Several plausible mechanisms proposed are chronic inflammation, hormonal and autonomic dysregulation. 

Like the known 7 risk factors for cardiovascular disease mentioned earlier, if you struggle with sleep, talk to your physician. Whether help comes in the form of lifestyle modification, talking to a therapist or the prescription of a sleeping aid, know that you can improve the quality of your sleep. 

Moving Ahead 

The main takeaway from this article is that there are 8 lifestyle factors that you need to optimize in order to lead a heart healthy life. Remember — the keys to optimal health are in your hands. It’s time for you to take bold action so that you can live strong, confident, and focused. 


  1. Healthy Habits Protect Your Heart. CardioSmart; American College of Cardiology. https://www.cardiosmart.org/topics/healthy-living/assets/fact-sheet/healthy-habits-protect-your-heart
  2. Life’s Essential 8™. Heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/lifes-essential-8
  3. Sleepfoundation.org

Dr-Saurabh-Rastogi (1)

Dr Saurabh Rastogi
Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiologist
Nobel Heart Centre (Gleneagles)

Our Specialist
Dr. Saurabh Rastogi is a Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at Nobel Heart Centre with over 15 years of experience in the US and Singapore.

In his prior practice with Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, Dr Rastogi was the Director for the Cardiac Catheterization laboratory and Associate Program Director for Cardiology Senior Residency Program. Dr Rastogi has special interest in Complex Coronary Interventions Advanced Heart Failure management, Echocardiography and Nuclear Cardiology.

*Visit Dr Saurabh Rastogi’s profile for the available insurance panels