New research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, could help you see if you are in good shape – I can tell you I got a real shock when I did my online assessment as my heart is apparently 10 years older than I am!
The purpose of the research was to compare the effectiveness of educating people on their heart health using Heart Age vs traditional risk scores. The ‘Heart Age’ concept is a simple way of estimating and expressing cardiovascular risk so that it can help promote behavioural changes that result in a reduction in that risk which in turns will lead to improved health outcomes.
Free online heart risk assessment tool
Cardiovascular disease is the world’s biggest killer but doctors have long struggled to explain risk factors to patients in a way that encourages them to change their behaviour thus reducing risk. When, or if, your doctor talks to you about your risk scores for heart disease then it is normally in terms of the percentage chance of contracting the disease within the next ten years.
Previous research has shown that Heart Age is more likely to be understood and motivate people to make positive changes than traditional % risk scores, especially those who are at higher levels of modifiable risk. The Heart Age Calculator, (see below to take the test) uses the same well established risk factor data, but expresses your personal risk score as their estimated Heart Age to make it more personally relevant to the individual.
For instance if you are 60 with a heart age of 80 then that is a clear sign that you need to you start preventive action.
Does it work?
Researchers at the University of the Balearic Islands, Spain carried out the study amongst 3,153 patients, who were randomly assigned to one of three groups before completing an annual health assessment. One group was then presented with their CVD risk expressed as a % risk, while another received the same information expressed as their estimated Heart Age. A third control group received general guidance on healthy living only. Follow up measurements were recorded a year later during the subsequent annual health assessment.
The results showed that patients who had been told their CVD risk (both as a percentage or Heart Age) demonstrated significant decreases in their risk scores compared to the control group, with improvements being greatest in the Heart Age group.
Since it was first launched in 2009, Heart Age has received widespread support from healthcare professionals as a solution to help sustain behaviour changes in multiple areas, such as healthy eating, increased physical activity and smoking cessation. Local public health pilots are being conducted in the UK in partnership with public health departments in local authorities, including Shropshire and Bromley Councils.
Patients who were told their Heart Age were far more likely to take action to live healthier lifestyles
For instance, the quitting rate for smokers was four times greater in the Heart Age group compared to those who received the traditional percentage risk scores.
Progesterone and heart health
Women frequently underestimate the risk they run for heart disease and are more likely to be concerned about cancer. However, heart disease affects women as much as men and ranks alongside cancer as the number one cause of death in the UK.
Nor is heart disease confined to the older generation as we adopt a more sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food choices the rise in obesity in young people will inevitably lead to an increased heart disease risk.
One of the contributory causes of heart disease is hormone imbalance, or oestrogen dominance, as it commonly known. In women the link between a lack of progesterone and heart disease is related to the action of oestrogen because in women perhaps one of the commonest causes of heart disease is a spasm and oestrogen can cause coronary arteries to go into spasm.
A lack of progesterone can be a risk factor for heart disease as oestrogen dominance means that salt and water are retained and potassium and magnesium lost, this causes increased blood pressure which is a significant heart risk. Progesterone, on the other hand, is a natural diuretic so expels water and helps reduce blood pressure so helping to protect the heart.
To take the free online assessment visit: www.heartage.me