New York: You can now figure out how healthy your heart is by yourself, thanks to a new online tool that can estimate your risk of developing cardio-vascular disease (CVD) in the next 20 years.
The Healthy Heart Score developed by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is a free web-based survey that also gives users practical tips for improving their scores by incorporating heart-healthy habits into their daily lives.
"The Healthy Heart Score is all about modifiable lifestyle risks, which may increase awareness of CVD prevention through lifestyle interventions earlier in life, prior to the development of clinical risk factors," said Stephanie Chiuve, assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School.
Adults who remain free of clinical CVD risk factors when they are middle-aged have an extremely low risk of developing the disease during the rest of their lives.
The model was developed using health data from 61,025 women and 34,478 men, who were free of chronic disease in 1986 and followed for up to 24 years.
The Healthy Heart Score is based on the nine most critical diet and lifestyle factors that can influence a person's risk of developing CVD in the next 20 years: smoking, weight, exercise, and intake of alcohol, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, sugary beverages and red and processed meat.
The calculator walks users through a series of easy-to-follow questions about their lifestyle, such as "do you smoke cigarettes?" and "during the past year, how often, on average, did you eat a serving of fruit?"
Users receive a risk score of low (green), moderate (yellow), or high (red), and a printable assessment with tips for improvement.
The survey is available at www.healthyheartscore.com.
The study was published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association.