How old is your heart?
The Heart Foundation has launched its new online Heart Age Calculator, as part of a national heart disease brand awareness campaign.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2017 an average of 21 Australians every day died from heart attack, while 22 a day died from stroke. Australians of all ages are impacted; more than 30,000 Australians under the age of 55 have had a heart attack that has affected their lives for at least six months.
“Alarmingly, one in five Australians aged 45 to 74 have a moderate to high risk for heart attack and stroke in the next five years,” said Heart Foundation Chief Medical Advisor Professor Garry Jennings.
“Don’t wait for a heart attack to be your first sign of trouble. Knowing your risk is the first step towards avoiding a heart attack or stroke.”
The Heart Age Calculator helps people understand their risk of having a heart attack or stroke by comparing their ‘heart age’ to their actual age. Intended for Australians aged 35 to 75 years who do not have a known history of heart issues, it asks questions about age, sex, smoking and diabetes status, BMI, blood pressure levels, medication, cholesterol levels and family history of heart attack/stroke. The answers are analysed to determine if a person’s heart age is above, equal to or below their actual age.
“The higher your heart age compared to your actual age, the higher your risk of having a heart attack or stroke,” said Prof Jennings. “If your heart age is greater than your actual age, we advise you to make an appointment with your doctor for a heart health check.
Prof Jennings said that close to 40% of Australians aged 18 and over have three or more risk factors for heart disease, which “remains the biggest killer of Australians”. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are some of the leading risk factors, he said, noting, “The more risk factors you have, the higher your chance of getting it, and these risks only increase with age.
“The good news is by taking some small steps to change your lifestyle — through eating a healthy, balanced diet, being smoke-free and getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week — you can reduce your risk for heart disease and lower your heart age.”
To use the Heart Age Calculator, visit the Heart Foundation website. If you have concerns from the results, you can call the Heart Foundation helpline on 13 11 12 or see your doctor for a Heart Health Check.
“Filling out the calculator does not replace the need to see your doctor for a heart health check,” Prof Jennings said. “We recommend having a regular heart health check if you’re 45 years old and over, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, from 35 years and over.”
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