Good heart health may help prevent the risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to the findings of a study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association titled “Relationship of the American Heart Association’s Impact Goals (Life’s Simple 7) With Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease: Results From the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Cohort Study.”
By 2020, the American Heart Association (AHA) plans to achieve a 20 percent improvement in cardiovascular health and 20 percent reduction in deaths due to cardiovascular disease and stroke in the United States.
To achieve these goals, the AHA recommends seven healthy factors for cardiovascular disease prevention, called Life’s Simple 7, related to total cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, blood pressure, smoking, body mass index, physical activity, and diet.
The diet recommendation addresses five components (fruits and vegetables, fish, fiber-rich whole grains, sodium, sugar-sweetened beverages) selected, in part, for consistency with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and AHA scientific statements.
The shared underlying pathophysiology leading to the development of cardiovascular and kidney disease suggests that cardioprotective recommendations might also be effective for kidney disease prevention.
“This study was the first to show that for people who are generally healthy, a higher number of ideal Life’s Simple 7 health factors is associated with a reduced risk of new-onset kidney disease,” said study author Casey M. Rebholz, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S., assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a news release.
To examine the relationship between the Life’s Simple 7 metric and incident CKD, researchers categorized 14,832 adults ages 45-64 in each of Life’s Simple 7 measures as poor, intermediate, or ideal. All subjects taking part in the study were followed for a mean time of 22 years for the development of chronic kidney disease.
The researchers found that over 22 years, there were 2,743 incident CKD cases. Those subjects with the most Simple 7 health aspects had the lowest risk of chronic kidney disease. In fact, only 6.5 percent of the subjects with six or seven optimal health factors developed chronic kidney disease.
Body mass index, blood pressure, physical activity, smoking, and blood glucose were linked with the risk of developing CKD, but blood cholesterol and diet were not. Risk of chronic kidney disease was inversely related to the number of ideal health factors.
The number of ideal Life’s Simple 7 health factors was associated with CDK even after the researchers accounted for the variables sex, age, race, and glomerular filtration rate (GFR).
“The shared underlying processes leading to the development of cardiovascular and kidney disease suggests that Life’s Simple 7 might also be effective for kidney disease prevention,” Rebholz said.
The optimal levels of Life’s Simple 7 were defined as those who were non-smokers or who had quit smoking for more than one year; having a healthy weight; performing physical activity for at least 150 minutes every week; having a healthy diet (high in fish, fruits and vegetables, and fiber-rich whole grains; low in sugar-sweetened beverages and sodium); having a total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL; blood pressure of less than 120/80 mm Hg; and a fasting blood glucose of less than 100 mg/dL.
According to Rebholz, the study results have important effects.
“Attaining ideal cardiovascular health as defined by the AHA Life’s Simple 7 metric may have substantial benefit for preventing the development of kidney disease. Recommending these ideal health factors may be effective as a population-wide strategy for kidney disease prevention,” she said.