Scientists have developed a new tool that can calculate the true age of your heart to estimate your risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life.
The risk calculator uses current familial and lifestyle risk factors to estimate the true age of a person's heart.
It then predicts how many more years an individual can expect to live before they have a heart attack/stroke compared with someone without these particular factors - if no corrective action is taken.
According to new recommendations by researchers from several British medical societies, published in the BMJ journal Heart, the JBS3 risk calculator can help healthcare professionals and patients better understand cumulative lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and what can be done to lower it.
The calculator takes into account people's current lifestyle, blood pressure, cholesterol level and medical conditions that may affect the heart.
For example, a 35 year old woman smoker, with a systolic blood pressure of 160 mm Hg and a total cholesterol of 7 mmol/l, plus a family history of premature CVD, would have a true heart age of 47 and expect to survive to the age of 71 without having a heart attack/stroke. Her 10 year risk would be less than 2 per cent.
However, if this woman quit smoking, cut her total cholesterol to 4 mmol/l and her systolic blood pressure to 130 mm Hg, her heart age would fall to 30.
She could expect to live to the age of 85 before having a heart attack/stroke and more than halve her 10 year risk to less than 0.25 per cent.
For the majority of people, the JBS3 risk calculator can show the potential gains from an early and sustained change to a healthier lifestyle rather than prescription of drugs, the researchers said.
Lifestyle changes include quitting smoking, adopting a healthy diet, and boosting the amount of regular exercise while curbing sedentary activity.