Test can estimate the age of your heart compared to your real age
Tells you what age you can expect to live without having a heart attack or stroke and gives a percentage risk for having one in the next 10 years
Heart disease, heart attacks and strokes are the leading global killer
Main risk factors are smoking, BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure, family history, sex, ethnicity and lack of exercise
Is your heart healthy for your age or are you on the brink of a heart attack?
A test can estimate the age of your ticker, as well as revealing how long you can expect to live without having a heart attack or a stroke.
Answering just 16 questions about age, height and weight, history of current or past diseases, family history of illness and lifestyle factors such as smoking, can reveal whether your heart is older than you are.
Created by NHS Choices, the tool is freely available and is designed to work for people aged more than 30 who have not already been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.
TAKE THE TEST HERE (you may need to scroll down at times)
Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease, heart attack and stroke, is the leading cause of death globally, according to figures from the World Health Organisation.
An estimated 17.5 million people died from heart-related diseases in 2012, representing 31 per cent of all global deaths.
The tool has been developed to give people an idea of how healthy their heart is, and if they find they have an increased chance of heart attacks or stroke, how to lower the risk.
Having a heart age similar to or lower than a person's actual age means they are more healthy, and are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years.
The test begins by asking for details on sex, gender, ethnic group and postcode.
Men are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease earlier than women, and certain ethnicities, such as people from South Indian or Black Caribbean communities, have an increased risk of developing a heart-related illness.
It also asks for a person's postcode, as certain areas of the UK are thought to be healthier than others.
Next, the test asks about smoking, height and weight, which are all also risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
It asks questions on blood pressure and cholesterol, but uses national averages for the UK if a person doesn’t have these figures.
After questioning whether a person is suffering from a range of illnesses that increase the chance of developing a heart-related problem, it calculates the results.
At the end of the test, doctors explain the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and give their advice on lowering them.
MAIN RISK FACTORS
The main risk factors for cardiovascular disease are high blood pressure, smoking, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, a lack of exercise, being overweight or obese, having a family history of heart disease or being from an ethnic background.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
One in three adults in the UK has high blood pressure, and it is known as the ‘silent killer’ because it rarely has obvious symptoms, but is one of the most common causes of premature death and disability.
A normal blood pressure reading is below 130/80mmHg.
However, it can be brought under control through lifestyle changes including losing weight, reducing the amount of salt consumed, regular exercise and cutting back on alcohol and caffeine.
Having high cholesterol can also increase the risk of a heart attack and stroke.
It builds up in the artery walls, restricting blood flow to the heart, brain and rest of the body.
It can be lowered by having a healthy diet and being physically active, as well as medication if appropriate.
Being overweight or obese, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 25, increases heart age and puts a person at risk of serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.
Smoking and other tobacco are significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease as the toxins in tobacco can damage and narrow the arteries, making a person more vulnerable to heart disease.
Stopping smoking is the single biggest change a person can make for their health, doctors advise.
One year after stopping, the risk of a heart attack is half that of a smoke.
DIABETES AND OTHER MEDICAL CONDITIONS
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes sugar levels in the blood to become too high. The two main types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
The high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can damage the artery walls, making them more likely to develop fatty deposits (atheroma).
Many people with type 2 diabetes are also overweight or obese.
Rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease and atrial fibrillation can also all increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease
Ethnicity is also a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease.
In the UK, coronary heart disease rates are the highest in South Asian communities.
African Caribbean people also have an increased risk of having a stroke or developing high blood pressure is increased.
Compared with the rest of the population, type 2 diabetes is also more common in African Caribbean and South Asian people.
People with a family history of heart-related diseases are more likely to develop health problems.
Individuals are considered to have a family history of cardiovascular disease if their father or brother was less than 55 years of age when diagnosed with the disease, or if their mother or sister was less than 65 years of age when diagnosed with the illness.
OTHER RISK FACTORS
Other factors that affect your risk of developing cardiovascular disease include:
Sex– men are more likely to develop heart disease, heart attacks and strokes at an earlier age than women
Diet – a high-fat diet can cause fatty deposits to build up inside the arteries, leading to high blood cholesterol levels and high blood pressure
Alcohol – excessive alcohol consumption can also increase your cholesterol and blood pressure
Stress – not taking measures to reduce stress is thought to increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease