EVER wondered what your risk of a fatal heart problem is?
Now you can face the truth with an online quiz that scores your heart health out of 100.
Seeing your heart health score on paper can be the kick you need to make lifestyle changes.
Many cardiovascular diseases — such as heart disease and stroke — can be prevented with healthy habits.
That includes quitting smoking, eating healthy, and exercising.
There are eight factors that the American Heart Association (AHA) considers critical to improving and maintaining cardiovascular health, dubbed “Life’s Essential 8.”
As of 2010, there were only seven components.
Last week, however, it was revealed that sleep would be added as the eighth cornerstone of heart health.
dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, AHA president who led the expert panel that wrote the advice, said, “Science has shown us how sleep is an essential part of cardiovascular health.”
“Nicotine exposure” has also replaced smoking, as the experts wanted to include e-cigarette use in the equation.
Do the test
The AHA’s famous “Life Essential” score – 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 have to create an account and then answer a number of questions about their diet, such as how many servings of fruit and vegetables they eat per week.
You also need to know your cholesterol and blood pressure, height and weight in order to make the score.
After you answer all the questions, you will be given a score out of 100 and told what to improve.
Meanwhile, the QRISK®3-2018 risk calculator — Available here — can tell you whether you’re at risk for a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years.
And the NHS’s heart age test compares your heart age, based on smoking, blood pressure and more, to your real age.
The Essential Eight Heart Health Factors
Surprise surprise – one of the greatest things you can do to take care of your heart is watch your diet.
The AHA says it strives for an overall healthy diet that includes whole foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and cooking in non-tropical oils such as olive oil and canola.
Limit sweetened 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, the AHA says.
If this is too much, aim for 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week.
It is important to do a combination of aerobic activity, such as swimming or cycling, and resistance/weight training.
Children should have 60 minutes each day, including play and structured activities.
Smoking is undoubtedly bad for you, as tobacco increases the risk of 50 serious health problems.
The NHS recommends the use of products containing nicotine – the addictive but harmless substance in cigarettes – for smoking cessation and encourages e-cigs.
But the AHA says: “The use of inhaled nicotine delivery products, including traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaping, is the leading cause of preventable death in the US, including about a third of all deaths from heart disease.
“Cigarettes, e-cigarettes and tobacco products contain many toxic chemicals, as do their smoke, vapor and liquids.
“And about a third of American children ages 3-11 are exposed to secondhand smoke or vape.”
Sleep – the latest addition to the AHA’s Lifescore, has been shown to affect our heart health.
Too little or too much sleep has been linked to heart disease, studies show.
Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but babies and children need even more.
The risks of obesity on the heart are obvious – too much weight can cause fatty material to build up in the arteries, causing a heart attack or stroke.
Some top tips for managing your weight include learning about portion sizes — it’s not just about how big or small your plate is, but what it’s filled with.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can reduce cravings and hunger, and exercise burns calories.
High levels of non-HDL or “bad” cholesterol can lead to heart disease by causing a fat build-up in the arteries, making a stroke or heart attack more likely.
“It’s mainly caused by eating fatty foods, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol,” says the NHS, adding that it can run in families.
Therefore, the best way to lower your cholesterol is to improve the above factors.
You will not know if you have high cholesterol unless it is measured by a doctor because there are no symptoms.
As with cholesterol, high blood pressure is not easy to spot.
In fact, it’s been called a “silent killer” because left untreated, it’s a leading cause of stroke and heart attack.
High blood pressure is defined as 130-139 mm Hg systolic pressure (the top number in a reading) or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic pressure (bottom number), the AHA says.
Levels below 120/80 mm Hg are optimal.
The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked by your doctor, at a pharmacy, or with a home device.
Keeping blood sugar at normal levels can help prevent type 2 diabetes — a condition that increases the risk of a number of conditions, including the heart.
In type 2 diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood from the food we eat instead of going into the cells.
The body has either developed insulin resistance or the pancreas has slowly lost the ability to make insulin. Insulin is the hormone that carries glucose from the blood to the cells for use.
Two major causes of type 2 diabetes are excess body fat and lack of exercise, as well as a diet high in carbohydrates, a family history of diabetes, ethnicity, and age.