Checking your heart age

Heart attack waiting!?

Observations about a Telegraph article and NHS test for checking your heart age, based on lifestyle choices. Smoking and obesity factor high.

I just read an interesting, if a tad morbid, article in the Telegraph about an NHS calculator that predicts when you will have a heart attack! Curious to note their use of ‘will’ instead of ‘may’.

Telegraph article: NHS calculator predicts when you will have a heart attack

It does ask for details like your current blood pressure and cholesterol levels, height, weight, whether you smoke and specific health problems like kidney failure. It doesn’t seem to care how much alcohol you consume, though, or much else, though I guess the cholesterol and BP are a rough enough guide IF you know them. As pointed out in the article, I read:

Dr Malhotra said he was concerned that the new NHS tool does not take into account basic lifestyle factors, “such as the type of diet people ate, and how much exercise they took”.

For me, it cheerily spits out that I have a heart age of 65, a 12.2% chance of a heart attack or stroke in the next decade and that:
On average, someone like you can expect to live to the age of 71 without having a heart attack or stroke.

Without knackered kidneys and other problems that play havoc with your blood pressure, the best I could get – e.g. perfect health – is a heart age of 47 and a 2.8% chance of a heart attack in the next decade, and it tells me:
someone like you can expect to live to the age of 81 without having a heart attack or stroke.
Read like that, everyone who does the test, regardless of age, gender, race or fitness, is in line for a heart attack at some point! What are they trying to peddle?

It advises that:
Your heart age is an estimate because you don’t know all your numbers. We’ve based your result on the national average. If you have high cholesterol, your heart age could be as high as 76, but if it is healthy it could be as low as 57.

Twenty-year difference. OK, high cholesterol is probably not a good thing. Just as well, I eat healthily. Less healthy eaters might want to know that even without additional problems or inherent risks, if I said I smoked 20 a day and was a chunky 24 stone, the risk goes up from 3% to 20%, and the heart age jumps up from 50 to 92. Probably the point it’s trying to get across, hmm.

NHS Check your heart age
(The NHS have since removed the heart age test)

I bet insurance companies would love to hoover up this sort of data to calculate premiums!

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