29.05.2024

How old is YOUR heart? Take this NHS test to find out…

It’s the world’s biggest killer. Yet millions gloss over the threat of heart disease, assuming they’ll somehow avoid the inevitable consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle.

But, for those wanting to know about their risk, there’s an NHS test that can help.

The tool compares your real age against your heart age, simply by asking questions about your health.

All you need to do is answer a few questions.

A 30-year-old with a healthy weight, height and blood pressure who has never smoked is likely to have a healthy heart and a heart age of 30, according to the NHS calculator

A 30-year-old with a healthy weight, height and blood pressure who has never smoked is likely to have a healthy heart and a heart age of 30, according to the NHS calculator

Smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and therefore the NHS says it actually increases your heart age. The calculator suggests people who smoke should quit to improve their heart health

Smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and therefore the NHS says it actually increases your heart age. The calculator suggests people who smoke should quit to improve their heart health

The quiz makes lifestyle suggestions to help lower high blood pressure including losing weight, eating less salt, exercising regularly and cutting back on alcohol and caffeine

The quiz makes lifestyle suggestions to help lower high blood pressure including losing weight, eating less salt, exercising regularly and cutting back on alcohol and caffeine

It quizzes people on their history of heart-related illnesses and whether they have diabetes, arthritis or kidney disease.

The calculator also requires your age, height, weight and postcode before also asking if you have ever smoked and what your blood pressure is.

Using a special algorithm, the calculator then gives you an age for your heart.

If you are a healthy 30-year-old who has never smoked and has a low body mass index (BMI), your heart age will most likely be 30.

But if you have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or cholesterol or smoke that number starts to creep up.

For example, a 45-year-old woman who does not have cardiovascular disease and who smokes less than 10 cigarettes a day can have a heart age of 46.

But, if someone of this demographic quits smoking, they could lose up to three years off their heart age, the NHS says.

A blood pressure reading is considered healthy if it is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. High blood pressure or hypertension, does not always have noticeable symptoms, according to the NHS

A blood pressure reading is considered healthy if it is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. High blood pressure or hypertension, does not always have noticeable symptoms, according to the NHS

There are around 100,000 hospital admissions every year due to heart attacks in the UK, according to British Heart Foundation

There are around 100,000 hospital admissions every year due to heart attacks in the UK, according to British Heart Foundation

A 60-year-old white male who doesn’t have cardiovascular disease, smokes 20 a day, is six foot and 16 stone and has arthritis and a high blood pressure, could have a heart age of about 68.

The NHS quiz says if they quit smoking, they could improve their heart age by around eight years and a further three years by losing weight.

The quiz also bases its age calculation on cholesterol and blood pressure as well as things such as weight and smoking habits.

A blood pressure reading is considered healthy if it is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, does not always have noticeable symptoms, according to the quiz.

But if it is left untreated it can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The quiz makes lifestyle suggestions to help lower high blood pressure including losing weight, eating less salt, exercising regularly and cutting back on alcohol and caffeine.

But if your blood pressure is high a GP may give you medicine to help lower it.

Cholesterol is considered healthy if it is 5mmol/l or below and it can be improved by being physically active and eating the right food.

THE CAUSES OF STROKE

There are two major kinds of stroke:

1. ISCHEMIC STROKE

An ischemic stroke — which accounts for 80 per cent of strokes — occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel that prevents blood from reaching part of the brain.

2. HEMORRHAGIC STROKE

The more rare, a hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when a blood vessel bursts, flooding part of the brain with too much blood while depriving other areas of adequate blood supply.

It can be the result of an AVM, or arteriovenous malformation (an abnormal cluster of blood vessels), in the brain.

Thirty percent of subarachnoid hemorrhage sufferers die before reaching the hospital. A further 25 per cent die within 24 hours. And 40 per cent of survivors die within a week.

RISK FACTORS

Age, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, family history, and history of a previous stroke or TIA (a mini stroke) are all risk factors for having a stroke.

SYMPTOMS OF A STROKE

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

OUTCOMES

Of the roughly three out of four people who survive a stroke, many will have life-long disabilities.

This includes difficulty walking, communicating, eating, and completing everyday tasks or chores.

TREATMENT

Both are potentially fatal, and patients require surgery or a drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) within three hours to save them.

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