Heart age calculator should come with a warning
Last edited 28th June 2009
The Heart age calculator
that was announced in the press this week sounds like a good idea; however it should come with a health care warning. We tried it out this week and entered that we were a female with diabetes, 60 years old and had recently given up smoking. The problem is, it came back with a heart age of 80. It doesn’t take account recent blood sugar levels, exercise or diet. Therefore it is rather discouraging and given there is no way of reducing the heart age what is the point. In fact it may lead to increases anxiety and discourage healthy behaviour.
This is totally unlike the excellent lung age study
in the BMJ, the STEP2Quit randomized trial. Telling smokers their lung age significantly improved the likelihood of them quitting smoking, but the mechanism by which the intervention worked was unclear. This was not a new idea as the concept was first developed in 1985 as a way of making spirometry data easier to understand and as a potential tool to show smokers the premature ageing of their lungs.
The success of this type of feedback depends on the prospect of gain rather than negative messages about costs or disadvantage. This is the exact problem of passing interventions off as useful without the appropriate evidence.
If anyone can tell me what the gain is of undertaking the heart age and what one is supposed to do about a negative result then I’ll change the title of this blog. By the way my heart age is 5 years above my real age, but it doesn’t take account my alcohol intake, that must be worth the loss of a few years!
By the way, if you totally want to demoralize yourself, try calculating your life expectancy