Have you seen the latest version of our Heart Age Test?
The online test draws from an important collaboration with the British Heart Foundation, NHS Choices and professional and academic partners, allowing access to help and advice that traditionally required a GP appointment.
The test asks for basic physical and lifestyle information and gives an immediate result, so users can compare their real age with their heart age – indicating the number of years they can expect to live healthily without a heart attack or stroke.
More importantly, the test helps people understand the individual and accumulative factors which may be increasing their heart age and increasing their risk of premature death or ill health.
It’s important that we enable people to take greater control of their individual risk, which in most cases requires no medical intervention.
Many can take preventative action by addressing behavioural risk factors such as smoking, obesity, cholesterol, blood pressure, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol consumption.
As a nurse in both a hospital and primary care setting, I treated many stroke and heart attack patients and it was evident that most of them would give anything to turn back the clock and take preventative action.
Perhaps one of the issues with heart disease and stroke is that the damage occurring in our arteries is not directly visible, making it easier to ignore what is happening inside our own bodies.
The Heart Age Test aims to make this more visible and allows people to see what positive action they can take. An eminent Professor of Cardiology once described this to me as ‘investing in your arteries’ and the sooner you invest, the more you will get back in later life.
Given that cardiovascular disease currently affects more than 7 million adults in the UK and is responsible for 1 in 4 premature deaths, there is a clear case for more prevention.
It’s staggering that over two thirds of premature (under the age of 75 years) cardiovascular disease events could be prevented.
Our latest analysis of the Heart Age Test data shows that men over the age of 50 have some of the highest Heart Age results, with 1 into 10 men aged 50 having a Heart Age at least 10 years older than their actual age.
We are working with partners to promote the Heart Age Test and provide better access to blood pressure testing, as knowing your blood pressure numbers gives you a more accurate heart age.
High blood pressure is the biggest cause of heart disease and stroke, so not knowing your blood pressure will automatically give you a higher Heart Age, as this is a serious risk factor in itself.
During September, the test will direct users to their nearest blood-pressure station where they can get a quick measure of their blood pressure, usually through an inflatable cuff placed around the arm.
The great thing about the Heart Age Test is that it doesn’t just reveal your current heart age – the ‘slider’ function allows you to adjust your lifestyle factors to give you a new and improved heart age should you make positive changes, such as quitting smoking.
For many of us, it can be difficult to envision how making healthier choices can have a direct impact on our bodies – it often seems like a long and daunting task to make lasting changes to our health.
But this function gives an instant picture of the long-term effects and allows us a glimpse into the future benefits, hopefully making them seem more real and – crucially – achievable.
With the Heart Age Test, we are bringing quick and easy health advice into people’s homes and onto their mobile devices.
The new version of the test follows the success of PHE apps like Be Food Smart - which tells consumers how much fat, sugar and salt is in their food – and our new app to encourage regular brisk walks, Active 10.
The beauty of the test is that you don’t need to download it and it takes just three minutes to complete. It has already been completed 1.4 million times so far – why don’t you give it a go and find out your own heart age?
Find out more about some of our health apps.