The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has launched a controversial calculator which predicts when you will have a heart attack or stroke – and compares a person’s “heart age” with their biological age.
Health experts said in a report in The Daily Telegraph that the online tool would give individuals “a wake-up call” – pushing those at risk of heart disease into making lifestyle changes to protect themselves from the UK’s biggest killer.
But some critics raised concerns about the accuracy of a “blunt tool” which tells every Briton they will have a heart attack or stroke one day, when many will not, and raised fears that the tool could be used to push millions more people into taking medication.
They also expressed concern that individuals would be frightened by being given a prediction, much of which is based on factors beyond their control, such as their family history of disease.
Last month a study found that some of the most widely-used risk calculators in use in the US were exaggerating the risks of heart disease, by more than double. GPs will be asked to promote the new NHS calculator, in a bid to encourage patients to take steps to improve their health – such as losing weight, or giving up smoking – or to start taking medication to lower cholesterol and statins.