Free online Heart Age Test gives early warning of heart attack and stroke risk to people in the West Midlands
Posted: Thu, 06 Sep 2018 13:27
Public urged to find out their 'heart age' with 50 preventable deaths from heart attack or stroke happening every day across England
Public Health England is calling for adults in West Midlands 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.
In the West Midlands region, there are around 6,031 deaths from heart disease and 3,266 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 West Midlands show that 78% of people in the region have a heart age higher than their actual age. Worryingly, 36% have a heart age over five years and 16% at least 10 years over their actual age.[v]
Dr Lola Abudu, Director of Health and Wellbeing for Public Health England (PHE) in the West Midlands, said: "The Heart Age Test is an online tool that gives a good indication if you are at increased risk of heart disease or stroke by asking a few simple questions. The higher your 'heart age' compared to your actual age, the higher the risk of you suffering a heart attack or stroke – proof that remedial action needs to be taken. You can lower your heart age by making important lifestyle changes such as losing weight, stopping smoking, eating healthier, reducing alcohol intake, and getting more exercise.
"Even if an adult's heart age is close to their actual age, there are still things you can do to live a healthier life for longer. All adults aged 40 to 74 in England are encouraged to have their free NHS Health Check, to access specialist, personalised advice. There are also a number of useful videos and resources available by going to the NHS website www.nhs.uk and searching for NHS Health Check."
Dave Lancaster (45) from Warwick weighed more than 34 stone (216kg) and was on medication for a long list of health problems including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnoea before he decided to lose weight with the help of Slimming World in April 2016. Dave's starting heart age was 55, but after losing more than 20 stone (127kg), he no longer needs to take any medication, his blood sugar reading has dropped from 94 to 25 – meaning he displays no type 2 diabetes symptoms, his blood pressure is in the range of a man 20 years younger, and his new heart age is just one year older than him.
Dave Lancaster from Warwick said: "I'd been overweight for as long as I could remember. I tried all sorts of things to lose weight, and I even lost 10st on a meal replacement diet – but I learned nothing about healthy eating. When I went back to my usual sausage and egg muffin breakfast, rounds of sandwiches and crisps for lunch, and takeaways polished off with two or three bottles of wine at the end of the day, I quickly regained the weight.
"At my biggest, my health really started to suffer. I had type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain, high cholesterol, the beginnings of gout and sleep apnoea. I found it difficult to walk to the end of my road, so I rarely went out. As I got bigger and bigger, it felt as though my world was gradually shrinking. I knew I needed help, and finally, in April 2016, I decided to give Slimming World a try and joined my local group – run by my former neighbour, Angie. As I walked through the door she recognised me straight away, despite us having not seen each other for years.
"Since losing weight, my health has improved dramatically. I no longer need to take medication, my blood sugar reading has dropped from 94 to 25, meaning that I no longer have Type 2 diabetes, I have a resting heart rate of 40bpm, my blood pressure has dropped from 140/77 to 116/68 and I no longer have high cholesterol. I don't need glasses now, either – an unexpectedly positive side effect of my reduced blood sugar levels."
TV Doctor and GP, Dr Hilary Jones, who is supporting the campaign, said: "With 50 preventable deaths every day of people under the age of 75, this is serious. It's vital that people know their heart health and take steps to reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack. As well as obesity, poor diet and a lack of exercise, high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but these are all things that people can change, and they can change them now."
Slimming World is also supporting the campaign to raise awareness of how losing weight can help to improve heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and is offering an exclusive discount for new members who take the Heart Age Test.*
Public Health England is calling on all adults in the West Midlands region to take a free online Heart Age Test to discover their heart age and whether they are at risk of a heart attack or stroke