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NHS heart age questionaire (idiocy)

rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
edited September 2018 in The cake stop
So, slapped across the news this morning the headline that "An online NHS test has shown that 78% of adults in England have an excessively high heart age". Now I like getting my numbers checked out and do so fairly frequently. Last time my Doctor reviewed them he said he'd never had someone with as low risk of heart disease as me! I think in the past my heart age as come up as at least 5, maybe 10 years younger than I am. So I thought I'd give the NHS one a go (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-health-check/check-your-heart-age-tool/). Now, it is only 16 questions but, at work I didn't have my blood pressure or cholesterol numbers which, I suspect, a lot of people who did the survey also lacked (I will re do it at home this evening with all the relevant numbers).

So, aside from the missing stuff, the only thing I put in that might be an issue was atrial fibrillation which is minor and diagnosed as having no issue relating to my overall heart condition. My result came in with me having a heart age of 57 (as opposed to my actual age of 51). It does say that the result is "an estimate" because I didn't put the numbers in (as if it is a fact if I did put them in.....) and that my heart age could be as low as 50 if I put them in! So it looks all but impossible to get a heart age significantly lower than your actual age.

So, basically, the survey, taken by 1.9 million people, defaults to telling you that you need to be concerned about your heart condition simply by omitting to put all the info in. I think this is disgraceful. I have no idea what the NHS is thinking of by publishing such a terrible survey but it will worry a lot of people unnecessarily. If it is all about cholesterol and blood pressure they should tell people to get that checked out and then do the survey. In the meantime, I'll return after I've found out what putting all the numbers in does to the results. Whatever happens, I'll be the same person filling in the same questionnaire tonight; if the number turns out differently then it will show the questionnaire to be the joke I think it is.

The headline I quote comes from the Guardian article which is the usual dismal unquestioning censored that you can rely on journos to produce. Hopefully there will be other papers more critical.
Faster than a tent.......
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Posts

  • Yep, like you I've had afib (once). So my heart age is 51 as opposed to my real age of 45. None of my real world heart stats can be entered so, like the good old BMI, this is a pretty useless tool
    My blog: http://www.roubaixcycling.cc (kit reviews and other musings)
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  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 2,091
    It's garbage. It only asks for systolic blood pressure, it only asks for an overall cholesterol reading rather than the ratio between HDL and LDL, it uses BMI which is s a pretty useless reference for anything, it takes no account of exercise or work activity, and so in short it's b0llocks.
  • Ok, I stuck in:

    Blood pressure 130.

    Cholestorol 4.03/2.0 (had that done last year) (as noted above not a ratio, just stuck the readings I had in)

    Takes 4 years off. Ticking the lose weight and blood pressure suggestions makes no further changes.
    My blog: http://www.roubaixcycling.cc (kit reviews and other musings)
    https://twitter.com/roubaixcc
    Facebook? No. Just say no.
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 7,285
    Agree with general consensus above its absolutely rubbish. Didn't help it aged me from 53 to 55 without blood pressure or cholesterol results and assumes because of BMI that I'm at risk. Doesn't take into consideration the 13k average daily step count or approx 80 mile a wks minimum on the bike or generally active job and lifestyle. As usual the number crunchers have made something out of nothing to justify their positions. It's just wrong, and a poor effort at what could be a lot better.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • I couldn't believe that a serious (or not, depending on your POV) paper led with this story this morning when even I can tell it's total shite.
  • hdowhdow Posts: 139
    As a 59 year old my 'heart age' came out as approx 60 with a life expectancy of 81. A male of my age, in England, has a statistical life expectancy of 82. My mum lived to 87 (she had a life long cardiac valve problem) and my dad is a lively 91. As with most here I'm healthy, fit,active and eat well. Looks like a quiet day on the news front and a bad piece of research based on a very dodgy questionnaire. Looks like more of a step backwards in public health education
  • I don't care about these questionnaires. What matters for me is the health check I got this year after finding out the nhs recommends this after turning 40. I got fired a series of questions. The first question in each block led to a "proceed to next section" response to the nurse. So I took 2 minutes to answer a questionnaire that you're allocated half an hour for (with blood sampling as well). Then another couple of minutes for taking blood samples, weighing me and taking my height. I was too tall for the height gauge and the nurse trying to hold a tape measure up to me so she accepted what I said it was.

    Anyway that gave me the best information. Basically I have a good, healthy lifestyle and it's reflected on the measurable properties such as various cholesterol measures, blood pressure, etc.

    What more could a questionnaire aimed at encouraging a change to a more healthy lifestyle achieve? Irrelevant IMHO!
  • It all seems very pointless and I suspect most of the info you put in doesn't really matter, if they're trying to get people to realise they aren't looking after themselves then they'll succeed by potentially scaring people a bit.

    Just inputting: Age, height, weight, and amount of exercise per week would tell you whether your heart is likely to be healthy (aside from complications or health problems which wouldn't be detectable by an online questionnaire anyway)
  • I'm surprised anyone here would bother with such a self-diagnosis as we're probably more aware here of our own health than the general public whom this message was aimed at.
    What more could a questionnaire aimed at encouraging a change to a more healthy lifestyle achieve? Irrelevant IMHO!
    We've tried encouraging people to live healthier lifestyles and it hasn't worked so instead of a carrot this is now using a stick to try and beat some sense into people that if they don't change bad habits they will die prematurely.

    I'd like to see the shock public information films of the 70s make a return and have adverts of people who can't play outside with their grandkids due to amputated limbs through self-induced diabetes or teenagers burying their 40 year old parents dead through heart disease.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    I thought when I heard it on Radio 4 this morning that it sounded like alarmist b0llocks and appears I was right.

    It's difficult enough diagnosing bikes on the internet, but actual cardiac health??

    Unless it's a single box to tick: Are you obese, largely immobile, and smoke and drink too much?
  • PepPep Posts: 501
    I got 46 compared to real age of 45.
    I didn't put pressure and colesterol because I didn't know them (mind you, they always tell me they are perfect). So in reality I guess I'll get better than 46.

    Whatever it means....

    Best thing a Dr told me was: "I don't know what you are doing with your lifestyle, but whatever you are doing it, just do not change it because it's spot on perfect"
  • Its a pointless "test" but at least it gets people thinking about it..

    However, its pretty irrelevant anyway my cholesterol was 3.5 (under the recommended level of 4) bp was low, never smoked, rarely drink alcohol, eat healthy and exercise at least 4-5 times a week and having no family history of heart disease didnt help me from not being diagnosed with heart disease and getting a stent in my LAD last year at the age of 34!

    What probably saved me though, was that I noticed something wasnt right whilst cycling, as I got pains in my chest for the first 10-20 minutes.. Drs still thought it was asthma for 8 months though :(
  • I got a cholesterol reading of above the recommended limit but they still said everything was OK with my health check. What is the point of setting limits if going over them is still OK?

    I wonder how right these experts are? I'm not challenging then outright I just don't believe in generalised criteria to determine health. It's too individual is health IMHO.

    The other thing is heart age. I thought it was a trivial pursuit question about age. Something like which party of the body is the oldest organ? The reason being that all cells get replaced except this one organ who's name escapes me right now. So your heart isn't old at all. It's this being pedantic?
  • FishFishFishFish Posts: 2,238
    Rolf F wrote:
    Last time my Doctor reviewed them he said he'd never had someone with as low risk of heart disease as me!


    I think you will find he is patronising you.
    ...take your pickelf on your holibobs.... :D

    jeez :roll:
  • FishFishFishFish Posts: 2,238
    Well I am 126 years old and got a - sorry - an heart age of 9.
    ...take your pickelf on your holibobs.... :D

    jeez :roll:
  • FishFishFishFish Posts: 2,238
    What is the point of setting limits if going over them is still OK?


    Because only you care if you are going to die - the medical profession does not care about you as an individual.
    ...take your pickelf on your holibobs.... :D

    jeez :roll:
  • FishFish wrote:
    What is the point of setting limits if going over them is still OK?


    Because only you care if you are going to die - the medical profession does not care about you as an individual.
    Oh! Don't soften the blow will you! Talk about breaking that to me gently.

    Partly true of course. Like with a lot of workers they don't have a much invested in their work as the recipient of their services. I think we can all quote stories from ppl you know about perceived negligence. It's also the preference of many to talk about bad treatment rather than good treatment. However it's not universally true. I have a good gp who is let down in my treatment by the services around her. By that I mean that what she can do is usually very good treatment but if she has to hand he over to other NHS services I don't always get the same quality of service. Although the gp x-ray department at the local infirmary is truly excellent. I have been in and out within 5 minutes for all the times I've used it. The gp got the results by the next day (well I went for the x-ray late on so not a bad service).

    Of course cholesterol limits are set by Nice guidelines. GPs follow those guidelines. Why ignore those limits in my case? I suspect the answers to the other questions indicated a low health risk by the higher than recommended cholesterol limits. It's all a combination of risks totalled up. High risks from one factor gets counteracted by low risks in another area if equal weight. Perhaps.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
    Well I ended up with 53 once the cholesterol and blood pressure were factored in. I got marked down because the blood pressure was a smidgen over the threshold the questionnaire uses but not the levels given elsewhere and I got screwed a bit on Cholesterol because the LDL was about threshold but because I have high HDL the ratio is really low. But that isn't used here. I'm more convinced by the medical advice than this test.
    FishFish wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    Last time my Doctor reviewed them he said he'd never had someone with as low risk of heart disease as me!

    I think you will find he is patronising you.

    Nothing you think is of any value so I won't bother with the response that I would have given to anyone else here.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • I opted to take statins, based on various factors, one of our doctors said, no don't be daft your figures are just on the high side of normal, a couple of weeks later riding with a friend who's a GP he said during a conversation that if he had his way he'd put statins in drinking water. A few months after that I spoke to one of the other doctors at the practice and he thought it would be a good idea to go on statins. I've noticed lots of people (especially older and conspiracy theorists) are very suspicious of Statins. Anyone else any experiences?
    All lies and jest..still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest....
  • Yep, like you I've had afib (once). So my heart age is 51 as opposed to my real age of 45. None of my real world heart stats can be entered so, like the good old BMI, this is a pretty useless tool

    Likewise...

    they tell you that exercise is good for your heart and then you can't even input whether you do any exercise or not.
    Also surprised that resting heart rate is not even mentioned, surely having 55 or 85 is not the same thing?
    Blood pressure you can only input systolic, which is the less important of the two...

    It's a garbage tool, as usual aimed at folks who don't have a clue about health...
  • FishFishFishFish Posts: 2,238
    Rolf F wrote:
    Well I ended up with 53 once the cholesterol and blood pressure were factored in. I got marked down because the blood pressure was a smidgen over the threshold the questionnaire uses but not the levels given elsewhere and I got screwed a bit on Cholesterol because the LDL was about threshold but because I have high HDL the ratio is really low. But that isn't used here. I'm more convinced by the medical advice than this test.
    FishFish wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    Last time my Doctor reviewed them he said he'd never had someone with as low risk of heart disease as me!

    I think you will find he is patronising you.

    Nothing you think is of any value so I won't bother with the response that I would have given to anyone else here.


    I think that you have just given me a response.
    ...take your pickelf on your holibobs.... :D

    jeez :roll:
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
    FishFish wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    Nothing you think is of any value so I won't bother with the response that I would have given to anyone else here.


    I think that you have just given me a response.

    Congratulations for working that out. Have a sardine.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 2,091
    I opted to take statins, based on various factors, one of our doctors said, no don't be daft your figures are just on the high side of normal, a couple of weeks later riding with a friend who's a GP he said during a conversation that if he had his way he'd put statins in drinking water. A few months after that I spoke to one of the other doctors at the practice and he thought it would be a good idea to go on statins. I've noticed lots of people (especially older and conspiracy theorists) are very suspicious of Statins. Anyone else any experiences?

    As you're probably aware there's a debate about the efficacy of and side effects of statins. The medical advice seems to be that they're safe and any downsides are mitigated by increased life expectancy etc. However it doesn't make someone a conspiracy theorist to question the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession and government. I'm not going to go all David Icke on you and suggest that Big Pharma is making us all sick so they can profit from us, but sometimes some healthy scepticism is required. When Doctors and the medical profession make appeals to authority it's worth remembering that they have been wrong about many things in living memory, from the treatment of ulcers, to the use of thalidomide for morning sickness and frontal lobotomies for people suffering mental illness. There are plenty of other examples for those wanting to do their own research. I don't know if Statins are the next medical scandal or not but if I was recommended them by my GP I think I'd exhaust all other natural remedies and dietary and lifestyle changes before I embarked on them.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    shortfall wrote:
    I opted to take statins, based on various factors, one of our doctors said, no don't be daft your figures are just on the high side of normal, a couple of weeks later riding with a friend who's a GP he said during a conversation that if he had his way he'd put statins in drinking water. A few months after that I spoke to one of the other doctors at the practice and he thought it would be a good idea to go on statins. I've noticed lots of people (especially older and conspiracy theorists) are very suspicious of Statins. Anyone else any experiences?

    As you're probably aware there's a debate about the efficacy of and side effects of statins. The medical advice seems to be that they're safe and any downsides are mitigated by increased life expectancy etc. However it doesn't make someone a conspiracy theorist to question the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession and government. I'm not going to go all David Icke on you and suggest that Big Pharma is making us all sick so they can profit from us, but sometimes some healthy scepticism is required. When Doctors and the medical profession make appeals to authority it's worth remembering that they have been wrong about many things in living memory, from the treatment of ulcers, to the use of thalidomide for morning sickness and frontal lobotomies for people suffering mental illness. There are plenty of other examples for those wanting to do their own research. I don't know if Statins are the next medical scandal or not but if I was recommended them by my GP I think I'd exhaust all other natural remedies and dietary and lifestyle changes before I embarked on them.

    As a naturally sceptical scientist I've got as far as thinking they make sense if you already have CV disease or you've had some kind of cardiac event, but it's less clear if they should be routinely prescribed for those with blood lipid profiles just outside the current arbitrary "desirable" targets.

    I've always had highish levels of triglycerides and my GP wanted me to take fibrates. Instead I improved my diet and started 5:2 eating. I lost a stone and my blood lipids are fine.
  • shortfall wrote:
    I opted to take statins, based on various factors, one of our doctors said, no don't be daft your figures are just on the high side of normal, a couple of weeks later riding with a friend who's a GP he said during a conversation that if he had his way he'd put statins in drinking water. A few months after that I spoke to one of the other doctors at the practice and he thought it would be a good idea to go on statins. I've noticed lots of people (especially older and conspiracy theorists) are very suspicious of Statins. Anyone else any experiences?

    As you're probably aware there's a debate about the efficacy of and side effects of statins. The medical advice seems to be that they're safe and any downsides are mitigated by increased life expectancy etc. However it doesn't make someone a conspiracy theorist to question the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession and government. I'm not going to go all David Icke on you and suggest that Big Pharma is making us all sick so they can profit from us, but sometimes some healthy scepticism is required. When Doctors and the medical profession make appeals to authority it's worth remembering that they have been wrong about many things in living memory, from the treatment of ulcers, to the use of thalidomide for morning sickness and frontal lobotomies for people suffering mental illness. There are plenty of other examples for those wanting to do their own research. I don't know if Statins are the next medical scandal or not but if I was recommended them by my GP I think I'd exhaust all other natural remedies and dietary and lifestyle changes before I embarked on them.

    Needless to say we're on different pages, if not different books on the Statins debate. I wish everyone good health whatever their thoughts on the science of statins. For others who are unsure a quote from Heart UK
    In response to the article published by Prescriber, which discussed the benefits and risks of statins, HEART UK Trustee and Head of Clinical Biochemistry Department at University of Newcastle School of Clinical and Laboratory Sciences, Dr Dermot Neely commented:
    “The article published by Prescriber in response to the recent publication in the Lancet offers a comprehensive overview of statins clinical trials and adds confusion to a debate between the authors and cholesterol sceptics, which seems unlikely to go away. This debate is of no benefit to patients.
    “Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) patients are living proof that low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is a causative risk factor for cardiovascular disease and since the first major randomised controlled trial of simvastatin showed reduction in both cardiovascular events and overall mortality, LDL-cholesterol reduction has become an established part of cardiovascular prevention strategies.
    “Unfortunately, many patients discontinue statins due to concerns about minor muscle symptoms, which has been shown to increase their risk of recurrent events. Although these symptoms may be statin related in some cases, serious muscle damage is a very rare event.
    “Patients should work with their doctors to find a statin regime which suits them and achieves good control of their LDL-cholesterol, which can be achieved in the vast majority of cases.”
    All lies and jest..still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest....
  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 2,091
    Needless to say we're on different pages, if not different books on the Statins debate. I wish everyone good health whatever their thoughts on the science of statins.

    Same here. I wouldn't dream of telling anyone not to take Statins if they had been prescribed them and I only speak for myself. However the medical profession do get things wrong, medical advice and best practice does change, the pharmaceutical lobby has huge power and influence.
  • FishFishFishFish Posts: 2,238
    Rolf F wrote:
    FishFish wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    Nothing you think is of any value so I won't bother with the response that I would have given to anyone else here.


    I think that you have just given me a response.

    Congratulations for working that out. Have a sardine.


    I think maybe you should. All of you are describing a litany of albeit minor but nonetheless medicating conditions. I really do hope that none of you fall ill - just as much as you do for me!
    ...take your pickelf on your holibobs.... :D

    jeez :roll:
  • I know a guy who has a medical condition that is significantly lifestyle based. He had a few options for controlling it but rather than changing lifestyle he took the drugs option. He didn't want to give up his beer, unhealthy food and lack of good exercise. So now it's been proven with him that the drugs work and he's on them for life now.

    The cynic in me believes that a life with less on the way of corporeal pleasures and me exercise could have had the same effect on his medical condition and also help lower his risks of other conditions affecting him later.

    It is this issue I have with statins. Perhaps it's better to put money into their healthy lifestyle than statins.

    Another guy I used to know got a job at a Swedish University. As part of their tax regime they got n incentives for healthy lifestyle. Apparently his employer / boss told him anything exercise or fitness related that he wants to buy could he paid for out of your taxes. I'm not sure of the details but it sounded like all you gym fees would come out of your tax bill. Basically if gym membership cost £400 a year then your tax gets reduced by that amount so the gym effectively becomes free when you look at your take home pay. This tax perk could be used for bike, home gym equipment or other exercise expense.

    If more countries did that then perhaps health if nations would improve. And statins needed less and less.
  • chris_basschris_bass Posts: 4,913
    I know a guy who has a medical condition that is significantly lifestyle based. He had a few options for controlling it but rather than changing lifestyle he took the drugs option. He didn't want to give up his beer, unhealthy food and lack of good exercise. So now it's been proven with him that the drugs work and he's on them for life now.

    The cynic in me believes that a life with less on the way of corporeal pleasures and me exercise could have had the same effect on his medical condition and also help lower his risks of other conditions affecting him later.

    It is this issue I have with statins. Perhaps it's better to put money into their healthy lifestyle than statins.

    Another guy I used to know got a job at a Swedish University. As part of their tax regime they got n incentives for healthy lifestyle. Apparently his employer / boss told him anything exercise or fitness related that he wants to buy could he paid for out of your taxes. I'm not sure of the details but it sounded like all you gym fees would come out of your tax bill. Basically if gym membership cost £400 a year then your tax gets reduced by that amount so the gym effectively becomes free when you look at your take home pay. This tax perk could be used for bike, home gym equipment or other exercise expense.

    If more countries did that then perhaps health if nations would improve. And statins needed less and less.

    It is one thing to buy the stuff or pay for the membership it is quite a different thing to actually use it or go!
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • FishFishFishFish Posts: 2,238
    Are you related to a good friend of mine called Sea Bass?
    ...take your pickelf on your holibobs.... :D

    jeez :roll:
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