How’s my heart?
I have just taken the Heart Age online test that you have probably heard of in the media. My result? Let’s just say I’m moving all my investments into short term. Or I would be if I trusted the results. If I had a dodgy heart, this test result could bring on a coronary!
What factors affect my heart age?
Three big things seem to have driven the results.
- An underlying condition, for which I am getting treatment
- My cholesterol level
- My blood pressure
The results included advice to act to reduce items 2 and 3. There was not a question asking how or even whether my condition is being treated.
Would action on items 2 and 3 help my heart?
The reason for the bad results is that in answer to the relevant questions, I clicked on ‘Don’t know’. I don’t, because I have never been told what the figures mean. Therefore, when I have a routine check-up, I just wait to be told if the figures are up or down and do whatever the doctor or nurse recommends. I am on tablets which keep my cholesterol down, and my blood pressure has always been OK or better. I just don’t know the numbers.
Why does ‘don’t know’ mean heart problems?
That is another thing I don’t know. I assume the system inserts an average result. That implies most people have too much cholesterol and high blood pressure. Or is it just the ones taking the test?
What would make my heart younger?
Better diet and more exercise are the main recommendations. They are things I am already working on. Of course, dietary advice is constantly changing, as is advice about alcohol consumption. The only way to get a more useful picture of the health of your heart, or any other part of you, is to get a proper medical check-up and have a serious conversation with a doctor or other health professional.
Remember, stress is very bad for your heart.
Worrying about your health is bad for you. Don’t worry: just take sensible measures, based on sound medical advice. Also, try to reduce stress at work or in any area of life. A risk management consultation might help you get control of the risks in your business and so reduce some of the causes of stress. Have a word with me. There are various therapies which different people have found useful in managing stress, from massage to hypnosis. Try one.
Misused statistics can be bad for your heart.
The people who designed the questionnaire and those who interpret it could benefit from reading How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics. So could you, perhaps?