The Heart Age Test: investing in your arteries

Heart Age Tool: Image from PHE blog

The Heart Age Test works out how many years you can expect to live without a heart attack or stroke. Take 3 minutes out of your day and take the Heart Age Test. Then you can make simple changes, like doing more activity or quitting smoking, to reduce your risk — before it is too late. 

No doctor’s appointment is needed. The test is an online assessment for anyone over 30. You input some basic physical and lifestyle-related information, and get an immediate estimation of your ‘heart age’.

We should all aim for our heart age to be the same as (or lower than) our real age.

The Heart Age Test is designed to prompt people who may look healthy to think about the health of their inner organs as well — and then to invest in their arteries. Heart health really matters. If you take action early in life and keep on with that, you will get a big lifetime benefit on your future risk of heart disease. 

There have been recent reductions in the overall incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD includes heart attack and stroke). But CVD is still the main cause of death amongst men and the second highest cause of death in women. Every month, 7,400 people die from heart disease or stroke. A quarter of CVD deaths are of people under 75. Around 80% of the heart attacks and strokes in people under 75 could be prevented.

Having a high heart age also increases the risk of other serious health issues including dementia, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.

1.2 million Heart Age Test results have already been analysed. 12% (167,000) of people had a heart age 10 years or more older than their actual age. 64% of those people with ‘older’ hearts were men. That means there are also large numbers of women with ‘older’ hearts!

If your Heart Age is older than your real age, you can do something about it.

Around half of those taking the test since it launched in February 2015 did not know their blood pressure numbers. High blood pressure is often symptomless and 5.6 million people in England currently have high blood pressure but do not know it.

For the first time, if users don’t know their blood pressure, the Heart Age Test will direct people to places like specific pharmacies where they can have a free blood pressure test. Those with high blood pressure are more at risk of heart disease or stroke.

The British Heart Foundation website will let you see the effects of lowering your cholesterol or blood pressure – I could ‘lose’ two years that way.

Do YOU know your heart age?

You know your weight or height – but your heart age will have profound effects for you and your family. And it’s something you can do something about!

Some more details:

If you are concerned by the age of your heart, you can make an appointment with your GP. But please also think about what YOU can do — stop smoking, be more active, eat better.

Blood pressure is in a healthy range if the first number (systolic number) is between 120 and 90 and the second number (diastolic number) is between 80 and 60. Blood Pressure UK have a guide explaining high, low and normal blood pressure readings.

Around 80% of heart attacks and strokes in people under 75 could be prevented. The main preventable risk factors for heart attack and stroke are:

• smoking

• a high-fat diet

• diabetes

• high cholesterol

• high blood pressure

• being overweight or obese

A new version of the Heart Age Test was launched on the One You website on 4 September 2017. The Heart Age Test is also available on the BHF website.

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