Researchers from the Framington Heart Study, a multi-generational study that began in 1948, have found that men and women are living longer and incidents of heart disease are occurring later in life on average. Overall, the study also found that people are less at risk for dying from coronary disease or having a heart attack or stroke, largely due to improved and more available healthcare, writes the American Heart Association.

Life expectancy, measured over three different time periods in the study, increased 11.9 years for women and 10.1 for men, while the risk for cardiovascular disease fell from 36.3% to 26.5% in women, and from 52.5% to 30.1% in men.

“It’s a very strong message of prevention and hope,” said Dr. Vasan Ramachandran, the author of the study recently published in the journal Circulation from the AHA. “This tells us that better health care access, preventive measures, smoking cessation and better treatment of high blood pressure and cholesterol may be helpful in lowering the lifetime probability of developing a heart attack or a stroke.”

The benefits for preventative care and a focus on heart health have now been documented, but the study is admittedly narrow in its scope. Ramachandran explains that the study is pulled mostly from a white population in one area of the U.S. and said that broader studies need to be carried out across more diverse populations.

The overall risk for cardiovascular disease in the U.S. continues to be high, however, and highlights “the need for continued screening and primary prevention efforts, as well as identification of more effective and widely accessible screening and treatment options,” said Monica Serra, associate professor and research health scientist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

Investing in Heart Health and Donating to the AHA

Over 16 million people die each year from heart disease in the U.S., and cardiovascular disease is the number one killer globally. Over 127 million Americans over the age of 20 currently live with the condition. With Americans able to resume more activities with response to the pandemic easing, the IQ Healthy Hearts ETF (HART) is positioned to benefit while also donating portions of its profits to the American Heart Association.

HART seeks to provide exposure to companies that diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease, companies that have above-average involvement in healthy food and wellness products, companies that offer solutions for people looking to track their fitness and participate in regular exercise, and companies that provide health education resources through IT services.

The fund seeks to track the IQ Candriam Healthy Hearts Index and invests across all market caps and in the U.S. and emerging markets. It does exclude some countries, including China. Companies are screened thematically for heart health-related revenue and/or impact to heart health objectives as laid out by the fund. The index also utilizes an exclusionary screen for companies that aren’t compliant with the UN Global Compact or engage in certain activities such as animal testing, nuclear exposure, and gambling. Companies that operate in countries with oppressive regimes are also excluded.

Primary sectors included in the index as of June 2021 were healthcare, consumer discretionary, and consumer staples.

HART carries an expense ratio of 0.45% and currently invests in 80 companies.

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