Adherence to Life’s Simple 7 – the American Heart Association’s (AHA) metric of ideal cardiovascular health – can prevent chronic kidney disease (CKD) according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Casey M. Rebholz, PhD, MPH, MS, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, and colleagues conducted the community-based cohort study. Researchers analyzed data from 14,832 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARC) study between 45 and 64 years of age. Participants’ adherence to each of the Life’s Simple 7 measures was categorized as either poor, intermediate, or ideal.

“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 Dr Rebholz.

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“Ideal” levels of Life’s Simple 7 were defined as:

  •      Non-smoker, or quit more than 1 year ago
  •       BMI less than 25
  •       Engages in at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week
  •       Eats a diet high in fruits, vegetables, fish, and fiber-rich whole grains. Diet is low in sodium and sugar-sweetened beverages
  •       Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL
  •       Blood pressure less than 120/80 mm Hg
  •       Fasting blood glucose less than 100 mg/dL

Participants considered “ideal” by most Simple 7 health measures had the lowest risk of developing CKD. Only 6.5% of ideal participants developed CKD; during the average follow up period of 22 years, researchers found 2,743 cases of CKD.

“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 concluded.


  1. Rebholz CM, Anderson CAM, Grams ME, et al. 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. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016;5:e003192; doi: 10.1161/JAHA.116.003192