This week, the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain revealed a calculator for predicting heart age. The tool, which was created in collaboration with British Heart Foundation, Public Health England, and UCL (University College London), consists of 16 short questions and takes less than a minute to complete. The answers provided—including height, weight, blood pressure, and family medical history—are then processed to provide each participant with their heart age.
The calculator has received global press attention and is undoubtedly a positive step in the battle to reduce cardiovascular disease, which is currently the world's leading killer. But what is heart age and what does it mean?
What is Heart Age?
Heart age is a concept for helping people to understand their cardiovascular health and risk for heart attack and stroke. We all know how old we actually are, but the rate at which our hearts age varies from person to person depending on a number of factors. Exercise, nutrition and stress are three of the key things that influence our heart health and affect the rate at which our heart age changes.
Two fifty-year old men with opposite lifestyles—one active and clean-eating, the other sedentary and always stressed, for example—will have very different life expectancies when considering their lifestyles alone. The first man's choices will have a positive impact on his heart health whilst the other's will be negative. The first man's choices will slow down or even reverse his heart age whilst the other's will speed his up at an increased rate.
When measuring heart age there are many factors to consider, which is where the NHS calculator's questions about family medical history are effective. Regardless of any genetic non-variables, however, we can all reduce our individual risk for heart disease with healthy choices.
Measuring Heart Age with iHeart Internal Age™
There are numerous tools that claim to provide this measurement, which has been referred to in many ways including biological age, cardiovascular age, and functional age. In the case of iHeart, we refer to it as Internal Age.
iHeart is a fingertip device and mobile app that measures cardiovascular health using information from your pulse. While online calculators such as the one by the NHS are widely accessible and a great first step towards a healthier population, their results are limited by a lack of finely detailed information. The questions asked by the calculator are backed by science but there is a limit to how accurately something as complex as heart age can be assessed through a questionnaire alone.
When you clip iHeart on your fingertip, it uses a scientifically proven method called aortic pulse wave velocity when measuring your pulse signal to determine your Internal Age. The process is entirely unique to the person being tested and the readings will respond to lifestyle choices immediately to show how they're benefiting or harming your heart.
One of the most common reasons that people give up their quest for better health is the loss of motivation. Many of us rely on visible clues to validate our efforts; clues such as weight loss or muscle toning. This can take a long time to happen for some people but iHeart helps you to notice the incremental benefits that your daily health routine is having, because even if it's not showing up immediately as weight loss or in some other visual way, your efforts are helping you to live a longer and healthier life and iHeart can prove it.
Download our free eBook How To Lower Your Internal Age now for a look at some low-effort activities that can help you to improve your heart age.