Take the online quiz to determine YOUR risk of fatal heart disease
Have you ever wondered what your risk is of having a fatal heart problem?
Well now you can face the truth with an online quiz that gives your heart health a score out of 100.
Seeing your heart health written down on paper could be the boost you need to make lifestyle changes.
Many heart and blood vessel conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, can be prevented through healthy habits.
This includes quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising.
There are eight factors that the American Heart Association (AHA) considers crucial to improving and maintaining cardiovascular health, called “Life’s Essential 8”.
Since 2010, there were only seven components.
However, last week it was revealed that sleep would be added as an eighth cornerstone of heart health.
Dr Donald Lloyd-Jones, president of the AHA who led the expert panel that wrote the opinion, said: “Science has shown us how sleep is an integral part of cardiovascular health.”
“Nicotine exposure” also replaced smoking, as experts wanted to include e-cigarette use in the equation.
To take a test
The AHA’s famous “Life Essential” score – which has been used in 2,500 scientific papers – has been revised to include a 100-point measure of heart health.
The quiz can be taken online at www.heart.org/lifes8.
Users will need to create an account and then answer a number of questions about their diet, such as how many servings of fruits and vegetables they eat per week.
You will also need to know your cholesterol level and blood pressure, height and weight for the score to be created.
Once you have answered all the questions, you will be given a score out of 100 and what you need to improve.
Meanwhile, the QRISK®3-2018 Risk Calculator – available here – can reveal whether you’re at risk for a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years.
And the NHS Heart Age Test compares your heart age, based on smoking, blood pressure and more, with your actual age.
The eight essential factors of heart health
Surprise surprise – one of the most important things you can do to take care of your heart is to watch your diet.
The AHA says aim for an overall healthy eating pattern that includes whole foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and cooking in non-tropical oils such as olive and canola.
Limit sugary drinks, alcohol, salt, red (beef, lamb) and processed meats (bacon, sausage, ham) and processed carbohydrates.
Avoid trans fats found in store-bought baked goods and fried foods.
Adults should get two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week, according to the AHA.
If that’s too much, focus on 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week.
It is important to do a combination of aerobic activities, such as swimming or cycling, and strength training/weight training.
Children should have 60 minutes a day, including games and structured activities.
Smoking is undoubtedly bad for you, with tobacco increasing the risk of 50 serious health problems.
The NHS recommends using products containing nicotine – the addictive but harmless substance in cigarettes – to quit smoking and encourages e-cigs.
But the AHA says, “Use of inhaled nicotine delivery products, which includes traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and vaping, is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, including approximately one-third of all deaths from heart disease.
“Cigarettes, e-cigarettes and tobacco products contain many toxic chemicals, as do their smoke, vapors and liquids.
“And about a third of American children between the ages of 3 and 11 are exposed to second-hand smoke or vaping.”
Sleep – the newest addition to the AHA Lifescore, has been shown to influence our heart health.
Too little or too much sleep is associated with heart disease, studies show.
Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but babies and children need even more.
The risks of obesity on the heart are clear – being overweight can cause fat to build up in the arteries, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Some of the best tips for managing your weight include learning portion sizes – it’s not just about how big or big your plate is, but what’s on it.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can reduce cravings and hunger, and exercise will burn calories.
High levels of non-HDL, or “bad,” cholesterol can lead to heart disease by causing fat to build up in blood vessels, making a stroke or heart attack more likely.
“This is mainly caused by eating fatty foods, lack of exercise, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol,” the NHS says, adding that it can be inherited.
The best way to lower your cholesterol is therefore to improve the above factors.
You won’t know if you have high cholesterol unless it’s measured by a doctor, because there are no symptoms.
As with cholesterol, high blood pressure is not easily identifiable.
In fact, it’s been called a “silent killer” because left untreated, it’s a major cause of stroke and heart attack.
High blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure of 130 to 139 mm Hg (the upper number of a reading) or a diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 mm Hg (the lower number), says the AHA.
Levels below 120/80 mm Hg are optimal.
The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked by your GP, at a pharmacy or with a home device.
Keeping blood sugar levels normal can prevent type 2 diabetes – a condition that increases the risk of a number of diseases, including heart disease.
In type 2 diabetes, glucose from the foods we eat builds up in the blood rather than entering cells.
Either the body has developed insulin resistance or the pancreas has slowly lost the ability to produce insulin. Insulin is the hormone that transports glucose from the blood to cells for use.
Two key factors in type 2 diabetes are excess body fat and lack of exercise, along with a high carbohydrate diet, family history of diabetes, ethnicity and age.