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12% of the UK have hearts ten years older than they are, Public Health England finds

Published on 04/09/17 at 11:12am

New findings from Public Health England (PHE)’s Heart Age Test indicate that around 10% of men in the UK are suffering from an ‘older’ heart. The study gathered the data of 1.2 million people via an online test which began earlier this year. It was found that 167,000 people, or 12%, had a ‘heart age’ of at least ten years older than true age; of this number, 64% were men.

The study coincides with a joint campaign by PHE in partnership with the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Blood Pressure UK and the Stroke Association. The collaboration aims to encourage people to be more aware of the health of their heart.

“It’s extremely worrying that so many people don’t know their blood pressure or cholesterol levels, as these silent conditions can lead to a deadly heart attack or stroke if untreated,” commented Dr Mike Knapton, Medical Director at the BHF. “The Heart Age Test is a quick and easy way to estimate the number of years you will live in good health. If you are concerned by the age of your heart, make an appointment with your GP.”

Cardiovascular disease is on the decline, but it remains the biggest cause of death in men and the second-biggest in women. 7,400 people in the UK die as a result of heart attack or stroke, but around a quarter of these deaths are in those aged under 75, and thus can be prevented, according to PHE.

The test takes just three minutes to gauge a user’s heart age, and refers apps, advice and resources to encourage a healthier lifestyle. It even directs users to the nearest station to discover their blood pressure if they do not know it.

John Deanfield, BHF Professor of Cardiology and Senior Adviser to Public Health England on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, explained: "!The Heart Age Test takes the results of considerable research, and translates this into messages that we can all apply to our heart health. Understanding personal risk, together with opportunities from intervention, empowers people to take control of their own cardiovascular health. I call it ‘Investing in your arteries’. It’s about convincing people their heart health really matters, and if they take action early in life and sustain that, they will get a big lifetime benefit on their future risk of heart disease."

Associate Professor Jamie Waterall, Lead for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at PHE added: "We should all aim for our heart age to be the same as our real age – addressing our risk of heart disease and stroke should not be left until we are older. The Heart Age Test is really important as it gives an immediate idea of heart attack and stroke risk, with no doctor’s appointment needed.”

Matt Fellows

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