Public Health England is calling for adults in the area 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.
In the East Midlands, there are around 4957 deaths from heart disease and 2,594 deaths from stroke each year.
It is estimated that around a quarter of these deaths are in people under the age of 75 and 80 per cent 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.
In England, one in four adults have high blood pressure yet a further 5.6 million are living with the condition undiagnosed, 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 East Midlands, show that 75 per cent of people have a heart age higher than their actual age.
Worryingly, 33 per cent have a heart age over five years and 14 per cent at least 10 years over their actual age.
Pharmacies within the East Midlands will be actively promoting the Heart Age Test by displaying posters and leaflets in prominent positions and having engaging conversations with the public encouraging them to take the test on their smart phone whilst in the pharmacy, so that they can can discuss the results, or when they get home.
Pharmacies will also be offering free blood pressure checks where possible and using the numbers cards to record results and agai encouraging members of the public to go on and complete the Heart Age Test again either whilst in the pharmacy or when they get home.
PHE East Midlands deputy director for health, wellbeing and workforce development, Ann Crawford said: ”The heart age tool not only gives you an estimation of your heart age but also gives you the advice on how to change it. By taking simple steps to adjust behaviour and lifestyle patterns people can significantly reduce their risk of a stroke or heart attack.
“Pharmacies across the East Midlands will play a crucial role in engaging residents to take up the Heart Age Test and will offer advice on their results, if you are stuggling with how to go about making changes to reduce your heart age I would encourage you to visit your nearest pharmacy.”
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.”
Public Health England’s Heart Age campaign will run until September 30. Adults are encouraged to search ‘heart age’ to take the free online test.