One million Aussies take the heart-age test

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One million Australians have taken the Heart Foundation’s online heart age test, and 79 per cent have been told their ‘heart age’ is higher than their biological age.

Since February, one in 11 Australians aged between 35 – 75 have completed the Heart Age Calculator to understand their own risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and what to do next.

Users answer questions about their age, sex, smoking and diabetes status, height and weight, cholesterol and blood pressure levels and if they take medication to control them, and whether immediate family members have had a history of heart attack or stroke before they were 60.

The calculator provides a heart age, which is an initial indication of a person’s overall risk for heart disease compared to a defined healthy range. A heart age that is older than a person’s biological age indicates increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

The Heart Foundation’s Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly, said the results were worrying.

“Close to one in six people who did the test had a heart age at least 10 years higher than their real age, suggesting they have a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to the average person their age,” Professor Kelly said.

Analysis of a representative sample of more than 50,000 heart age checks reveals:

  • 79% had a heart age greater than their biological age
  • 8% had a heart age equal to their biological age
  • 13% had a heart age lower than their biological age

Professor Kelly said almost one-third of this sample group did not know both their blood pressure and cholesterol readings.

Of those who knew their cholesterol level, two in five had a high total cholesterol level, and of those who knew their blood pressure, one in six had a high systolic blood pressure.

“This is a concern because high blood pressure and cholesterol are two key risk factors for heart disease, they are also silent risk factors so many people could be living with high cholesterol or blood pressure and not know it,” Professor Kelly said.

He said the findings confirmed that Australians needed to do more to protect their heart health.

“Despite advances in treatment, research and prevention, heart disease still kills about 17,500 Australians each year – which equates to around 48 people every day.

“The Heart Age Calculator is helping to educate Australians about the risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure and cholesterol levels, family history of heart disease, smoking and being overweight.

“It is encouraging that one million Australians have taken personal responsibility to learn more about their risk for heart disease, but this is only the first step.

“We recommend that everyone aged 45 and over - 30 and over for Indigenous Australians - see their GP for a Heart Health Check. Your doctor will help you understand more about your risk factors and will work with you to improve your heart health and lower your risk.”

Australians aged 45 years or older - 30 years or older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - who have not had a heart attack or stroke are eligible for a Heart Health Check under Medicare.

The Heart Age Calculator, which was launched in February, is designed for people aged 35 to 75 years who do not have heart disease or have not previously had a heart attack or stroke. To find out your heart age goto  Heart Age Calculator on the Heart Foundation website.