Nearly 80% of people in the UK have an older “heart age” than their real age, new research suggests, putting them at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
In February 2015, the NHS Choices website began hosting a tool that enables the public to calculate their heart age, which has been found to be more effective than ten-year cardiovascular risk estimates at prompting people to change their lifestyle.
In the first five months, more than 575,000 people input information, such as age, weight, smoking status and blood pressure, into the system. In total, 79% of users had an older heart age than their real age, while only 8.7% had a heart age younger than their real age.
According to the data, published in BMJ Open
(online, 29 September 2016), users were on average younger than the general population of England: two-thirds of users were between the ages of 40 years and 74 years, and 61% of users were men.
For users aged under 40 years, 69% had a heart age older than their real age. Broken down by gender, 87% of men aged under 40 years had an older heart age compared with 41% of women. Of these, 28% had a heart age at least five years older.
The tool was developed by the Joint British Societies and Public Health England (PHE) with the aim of broadening public awareness of cardiovascular health and participation in the NHS Health Check service.
Jamie Waterall, national lead for cardiovascular disease prevention at PHE, says: “For people over 40, the NHS Health Check presents an invaluable opportunity to discuss your heart health with a professional.”
 Patel RS, Lagord C, Waterall J et al. Online self-assessment of cardiovascular risk using the Joint British Societies (JBS3)-derived heart age tool: a descriptive study. BMJ Open 2016;5:e011511. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011511