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Most hearts are ‘older’ than we are

The anatomy of the chest.

The majority of British people have hearts that are physically ‘older’ than the rest of their body, according to a new study.

Using an online test on the NHS Choices website to calculate a person’s risk of heart attack or stroke, the study shows nearly 4 in 5 people over 30 years old have a heart which is, in effect, older than their age.

This puts them at a higher risk of suffering a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke, so says the British Heart Foundation-funded study.

Most unaware of risks

The study, which examined data from 575,000 people, found that 2 in 5 women under 40 have an older heart, compared to 87% of men the same age.

Most participants are unaware of their own cardiovascular risk factors, with nearly half not knowing their blood pressure and three-quarters unaware of their cholesterol levels.

Jamie Waterall, national lead for cardiovascular disease prevention at Public Health England, says people should use the tool even if they don’t have symptoms.

The tool provides an indication of a person's potential risk and what they can start doing to reduce it.

Knowing heart age is ‘vital’

Dr Mike Knapton, BHF associate medical director, says knowing your heart’s age is vital to taking control of your health.

It means people can start to make changes to help protect themselves against heart attacks and strokes.

And the earlier the changes are made, the bigger the health benefits.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, poor diet and a lack of exercise all contribute to an older heart.

Cardiovascular disease causes more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK. This equals around 155,000 people each year.

The study was published in the journal BMJ Open.

 

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