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Chairman Newham CCG and GP Dr Zuhair Zarifa says use the new NHS heart calculator

PUBLISHED: 11:18 18 March 2015 | UPDATED: 11:18 18 March 2015

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Last week the NHS launched an online calculator that predicts when you might have a heart attack or stroke. It is called "check your heart age".

After you input information about your health and lifestyle it will compare your “heart age” with your biological age and then estimate when you are likely to have a stroke or a heart attack. Using the tool can be a bit scary because everyone is given an estimate of when they may suffer a stroke or heart attack. However, we know that not everyone will die from a stroke or heart attack.

The tool is really there to help you understand your risk. This may be a real wake-up call for people. I encourage people over 30 years old to use the calculator.

I think it is good for people to challenge their health. It can be that all-important nudge to take action and make lifestyle changes to improve your heart health

Statistical evidence shows people from certain ethnic groups, including south Asian, African and Caribbean are more likely to suffer from a stroke or heart attack. So, too, are people with certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Some factors, like family history and ethnicity, are beyond our control but lifestyle factors like smoking, overeating and lack of exercise can also increase the risk. These are things you can take action to change. Leading a healthy, active lifestyle is a good way to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Another way you can understand your health and your level of risk is by attending an NHS Health Check.

Every five years the NHS invites people between 40 and 74 to have an NHS health check. This is done at your GP practice.

Small, long-lasting changes to your lifestyle can make a huge difference. Understanding your heart age can be a real wake-up call for people who might be at risk.

Find the heart health calculator online at nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/heartage.aspx. If you are concerned by your results, contact your GP.

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