Public Health England is calling for adults in the South West to take a free, online Heart Age Test, which will provide an immediate estimation of their ‘heart age’. If someone’s heart age is higher than their actual age, they are at an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), with stroke and heart attack being the most common examples, is the leading cause of death for men and the second leading cause of death for women.[i]
In the South West, there are around 6,085 deaths from heart disease and 3,991 deaths from stroke each year.[ii] It is estimated that around a quarter of these deaths are in people under the age of 75 and 80% of those are preventable if people made lifestyle and behaviour changes to improve their heart health. Knowing their heart age helps people to find out whether they are at risk and consider what they can do to reduce this risk.
High cholesterol and high blood pressure can both increase someone’s heart age, making them up to three times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.[iii] In England, one in four adults have high blood pressure yet a further 5.6 million are living with the condition undiagnosed,[iv] placing millions of lives at risk of premature death and ill health.
The Heart Age Test asks a number of simple physical and lifestyle questions and provides an immediate estimation of someone’s heart age, as well as a prediction of the risk of having a heart attack or stroke by a certain age. It also gives suggestions on lifestyle changes to help people reduce their heart age such as losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising regularly and cutting back on alcohol.
The Heart Age Test has been completed more than 1.9 million times across England. Completed tests in the South West, show that 77% of people have a heart age higher than their actual age. Worryingly, 34% have a heart age over five years and 15% at least 10 years over their actual age.[v]
Debbie Stark, Deputy Centre Director for Public Health England South West said:
“It is worrying that over 10,000 people in the South West die of a heart attack or stroke each year.
“We know that around 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes in people under 75 could be prevented.
“If you are aware that you might be at risk, this can help you decide what lifestyle and behaviour you need to change to reduce your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
“Reducing or quitting smoking, exercising more and drinking less alcohol can all have a significant impact on your risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke.
“I would urge South West residents to find out their heart age now by taking the quick and easy test. It only takes a few minutes and can give you a good indicator of whether you need to make any changes.”
Dr Nigel Acheson, Regional Medical Director (South), NHS England said:
“High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms but left untreated it increases your risk of serious problems like heart attacks and strokes. That’s why it is important to know your blood pressure in the same way you remember your height and weight.
“If you are over 40 years of age you are advised to have your blood pressure checked at least every five years and if you’re at an increased risk of high blood pressure, for example you have a family history of high blood pressure, you should have it checked more often – ideally once a year.
“Having this done is easy and could save your life. You can get your blood pressure tested for free at a number of places, including some pharmacies, your local GP surgery or as part of the NHS Health Check for people aged 40 to 74.”
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[i] NOMIS: Offical labour market statistics. (2016). Mortality statistics – underlying cause, sex and age for England. [cited 9th July 2018]: https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/query/construct/summary.asp?mode=construct&version=0&dataset=161
[ii] ONS Crown Copyright Reserved [from Nomis on 9 August 2018]
[iv] PHE (2016). Analysis of hypertension prevalence estimates in England. [cited 9th July 2018] here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/612309/HypertensionprevalenceestimatesinEnglandestimate.pdf
[v] Data collected between 1 Nov 2017 and 1 August 2018, for records with valid LSOA code