Heart Health

Updated 28 September 2016

Do you know your heart age?

Heart age is different from your actual age and can be a good indicator of how healthy your heart is, and whether you need to change your lifestyle habits.

September is Heart Awareness Month. Knowing your heart age can help determine how healthy your heart is and whether you need to take action to change your lifestyle habits.

Your heart age is different from your actual age and can be higher or lower than your chronological, or actual, age, depending on the number of risk factors you have for heart disease.

These risk factors include things like having high cholesterol or blood pressure, being overweight or obese, and smoking. Your heart age can give you a good indication of your heart health status and can help you determine whether you need to make any dietary and/or lifestyle changes.

According to the SA Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF) at least 80% of premature (under the age of 60 years) deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided if the main risk factors of tobacco, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are controlled.

How is your heart age calculated?

Heart age is calculated using a range of scientific data for determining cardiovascular risk and has been developed using years of heart health research. Your heart age is dependent on a number of factors, including: your age, cholesterol, blood pressure, body weight, diabetes status and whether or not you smoke.

These factors in turn are influenced by your diet and lifestyle choices, such as how much food containing good fats you eat and how much exercise you do. By comparing your health status to those in the same age group as you, your heart age gives you an indication of how healthy your heart is, and whether you need to take action to change your lifestyle habits.

Often the indicators that you are at risk, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, are symptom-free. The only way of knowing is by having a health check-up. Finding out if you are suffering from these conditions can act like an early warning system, which can help reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke further down the line. And the sooner you can find out, the better.

Free heart screenings

This year's Heart Awareness Month will see radio DJs and their teams getting their heart health checked live on air, as radio stations around the country take part in the HSF's Heart Age Challenge.

You can join them in testing your heart health by checking your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and body mass index levels. These vital statistics could be the early warning signs that can show if your health is at risk for developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.

The HSF is offering free heart health screenings to the public. The screening includes a blood cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure and body mass index test.

View this screening calendar to find out when the HSF screening team is screening near you.

The HSF has also partnered with Clicks Clinics to provide screenings around South Africa. To book your free heart health screening during the month of September, contact your local Clicks pharmacist or clinic sister. Visit www.clicks.co.za or call 0860 CLICKS/254 257 to make an appointment. Screenings by appointment only.  

For more information about heart health, and where you can get screened, call the Heart and Stroke Health Line on 0860 1 HEART (43278), visit www.heartfoundation.co.za or email heart@heartfoundation.co.za

Do this fun quiz: is your heart age older than you?


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