Young at heart? A new tool developed by British scientists may be able to tell you. The calculator assesses the true age of your heart, and how long you are likely to live before suffering a heart attack or stroke, by evaluating a series of cardiovascular risk factors tied to genetics and lifestyle.
The tool, created by researchers from several British medical societies, is being recommended to determine the risk of developing heart disease later in life, according to a report on the calculator by the LiveScience
Current prevention strategies for heart disease are based on short-term estimates, which are heavily dependent on age and gender, researchers said. Therefore, younger people and women tend to be excluded even if they are leading a lifestyle that puts them at high risk later in life.
The new tool, detailed in the British Medical Journal Heart, has been designed to identify at-risk individuals and predict how many years they can expect to live before they have a heart attack or stroke. It is based on the growing body of evidence showing that there is a long buildup to heart disease, said the researchers from Joint British Societies. It takes into account people's current lifestyle, blood pressure, cholesterol level, and medical conditions that may affect their heart.
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For example, a 35-year-old woman with a family history of heart disease who smokes, has high blood pressure, and elevated total cholesterol would have a true heart age of 47 and could expect to survive to age 71 before having a heart attack or stroke, according to the calculator.
But if she quit smoking, cut her total cholesterol, and lowered her blood pressure, her heart age would fall to 30 and she could expect to live to age 85 before having a heart attack or stroke.
For most people, the researchers said, the calculator can show the potential gains from an early and sustained change to a healthier lifestyle — such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and reducing sedentary activity — rather than taking prescription drugs.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, causing nearly 600,000 deaths every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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