A H Khan

2018-09-05 06:54:45 BdST

How your heart age is key to heart attack or stroke risk

They predict about 80% of heart attacks and strokes in people under 75.

Unhealthy lifestyles put in four adults in risk, they estimate

People should quit smoking

The test is not diagnostic - it will not tell you - but it can be a wake-up call to make healthy changes

David Green, who is 59, took the test

"The worst moment was being told my heart is 10 years old than me and that my life expectancy was shortened," he told the BBC.

"That took some digesting for sure, but I flipped it to a positive statement to do something to reverse that scenario."

David took the test after he struggled to keep up rehearsals for his role in The Full Monty with his local theater company in Plymouth.

He had never heard of heart age, but he said he had guessed.

"I'm 59 now so I thought 'oh maybe it'll be 62 or 63', so a whole 10 years - that was a real shocker.

"They told me that 'you really need to do something else you're not going to see that much of your pension'.

"I think that was the main thing for me, I'd just retired, I'd like to be a bit longer thank you very much."

Obesity, poor diet, a lack of exercise and high blood pressure are important factors for the heart that can be changed.

How to improve your heart health:

Give up smoking
Get active
Manage your weight
Eat more fiber
Cut down on saturated fat
Get your five a day fruits and vegetables
Cut down on salt
Eat fish
Drink less alcohol
Read labels on food and drink

Almost two million people have taken the heart age test and 78% of participants have a heart age higher than their actual age. Of those, 34% were more than five years over their actual age and 14% at least 10 years higher.

More than 84,000 people died from heart attack or stroke every year in England.

Dr. Matt Kearney, from NHS England, said the test has the "potential to help millions of people".

The test is being backed by the British Heart Foundation and the Stroke Association.

Juliet Bouverie, chief executive at the Stroke Association, said: "We believe that across the UK there are around six million people who are undiagnosed and untreated for high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation, two of the biggest risk factors for stroke.

"However, treatment for these conditions can significantly reduce your risk of the stroke and the devastation it causes."
The test asks 16 simple physical and lifestyle questions and gives an estimate of your heart age, and a prediction of a certain age by having a heart attack or stroke of risk.

It also gives suggestions on life changes.

One year after smoking, a person's risk of heart disease is about half that of a smoker's
Doing the recommended amount of weekly exercise - at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, such as cycling or brisk walking - can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Increasing the amount of fruit and veg from three portions
You can do the test here

David joins the gym, cut down on his alcohol intake and is eating too much healthily. He says he is dealing with his health and knowing what he is dealing with is very satisfying and empowering.

So far David has lost two stone and his BMI has come down by six points.

"I want to have a long and happy and healthy retirement and that's what it's about now - I've worked for 40 years continuously and I want to be enjoying things, I do not want to be hobbling around on a stick, which I could have been

"I know when I've had those temptations to get an extra pint of beer or glass of wine, I know I have got something that is a good thing - it's good, it's an empowering thing to do."

Maureen Talbot, Senior Cardiac Nurse at British Heart Foundation, said: "The goal of the heart age tool is not to diagnose any heart conditions but to make people feel more about their heart health risks and they should be encouraged to make simple lifestyle changes. .

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