A heart health test set up by Public Health England (PHE) has shown that around 1 in 10 of men who have taken the quiz, have a heart that is 10 years older than their actual age. The calculator was set up to help people gain awareness of their heart health. The campaign is known as ‘One You’ and was set up in 2016. It has been running for two years.
The premise behind setting up a heart age calculator is that the heart could be ‘aged’ through unhealthy behaviour, including being obese and smoking. Some conditions which can be unnoticed, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol could also cause the heart to age. The test asks a series of questions about factors that may affect cardiovascular health risk. People taking the test are asked their age, ethnicity and whether they are male or female. They fill in their height and weight which can be used to calculate their BMI or body mass index. They are asked about whether family members under 60 have cardiovascular disease and whether they have been a smoker or are still a smoker. The survey also asks about whether someone has a disease which is likely to contribute to heart health risk, such as chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, atrial fibrillation or diabetes. They are asked whether they know their cholesterol score and their blood pressure numbers, or whether they are on blood pressure treatment. The test lasts no more than 3 minutes.
Following the responses to the quick questions, the calculator can tell you the heart age, as well as the average age you can expect to live, without suffering a stroke or heart attack. The results are broken down and the person filling out the survey is informed of their BMI and blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If these are not known, then it is recommended that they are checked by a GP or at a pharmacy. There are links to resources which can give advice on lifestyle changes, activity and diet, including the NHS Choices and British Heart Foundation, and advice on where to go to get tested and know your heart health numbers. People in the UK, aged between 40 and 74 are eligible for a NHS health check which can look for early signs of serious diseases which can affect your heart health such as kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia and heart disease.
Public Health England have analysed 1.2 million test results so far. 33,000 of these were men aged 50. Half the respondents to the survey did not know their blood pressure numbers, and the possibility is that 5.6 million people living in England, could have high blood pressure and not know it. If left untreated, this condition could cause a stroke or heart attack. PHE estimates that 7,400 people could die from stroke or heart disease in just a month. 25% of these deaths are people aged under 75 years, and could have been prevented. Experts recommend that knowing and checking for our risk of stroke and heart disease should not be left until old age.
People can improve their heart health and reduce their cardiovascular disease risk by increasing activity and exercise, managing their weight and eating more fibre, including the five a day fruit and vegetables giving up smoking, consuming less alcohol and cutting back on salt. The One You Check Your Heart Age survey is still running and it is recommended that people take the test to check their own risk of heart disease, so that they can alter their lifestyle to help reduce their risk.
Public Health England, 1 in 10 men aged 50 have a heart age 10 years older than they are. September 4, 2017