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New study uses heart age calculator to motivate people to adopt healthier lifestyles

New research, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, has shown that using Heart Age to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk promotes behavioural changes that result in a decrease in CVD risk.

Unlike traditional CVD risk scores that estimate percentage risk over ten years, Heart Age expresses an individual’s risk score as their estimated Heart Age to make it more personally relevant to the individual. A research trial conducted amongst 3,153 patients in Spain showed significant improvements in risk scores amongst patients who were told their Heart Age.

These patients were found to be far more likely to take action to live healthier lifestyles, such as quitting smoking. Quitting rate for smokers was four times greater in the Heart Age group compared to those who were given the traditional percentage risk scores. The authors highlight that the significant improvement in CVD risk seen in this study in the Heart Age group was reached with no intervention other than informing participants of their Heart Age. They add that further reinforcement activities might be necessary to maintain the initial emotional impact in order to see a sustained effect.

The new research was welcomed by Dr. Mark Cobain, Chief Science Officer of Heart Age, who developed the original Heart Age calculator, which was launched jointly by Unilever and the World Heart Federation in 2009.

Dr. Cobain said: “The results of the Spanish study, which used our Heart Age tool, validate all the work we have done to optimise Heart Age and create a highly credible behaviour change platform that is proven to motivate people to improve their health. Our Heart Age platform at triggers people to take action and then connects them with a range of support solutions that together will help them sustain positive change and improve their Heart Age.”

Dr. Cobain added: “These new findings about the positive impact of Heart Age are timely as the Joint British Society’s (JBS) new cardiovascular prevention guidelines, JBS3, are expected to introduce the Heart Age concept. Our Heart Age platform supports this goal by spreading awareness of Heart Age beyond the clinical setting to reach and motivate everyone in the community to live healthier lives and maintain a healthy Heart Age.”

Since it was first launched in 2009, Heart Age has received widespread support from healthcare professionals as a solution to help sustain behaviour changes in multiple areas, such as healthy eating, increased physical activity and smoking cessation. Local public health pilots are being conducted in the UK in partnership with public health departments in local authorities, including Shropshire Council and Bromley Council.

To find out your Heart Age and how to improve it, visit: www.heartage.me.

Source

Effectiveness of the Heart Age tool for improving modifiable cardiovascular risk factors in a Southern European population: a randomized trial, Authors: Angel A Lopez-Gonzalez, Antoni Aguilo, Margalida Frontera, Miquel Bennasar-Veny, Irene Campos, Teofila Vicente-Herrero, Matias Tomas-Salva, Joan De Pedro-Gomez, Pedro Tauler, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology (February 2014) doi: 10.1177/2047487313518479

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