I am
Show me:
Show me:
Heart age test prompts lifestyle changes: new research
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Heart age test prompts lifestyle changes: new research

Media Release - 13 August 2020

Research into more than 1,300 Australians who took the Heart Foundation’s online heart age test show that 50 per cent lost weight and more than 60 per cent increased their exercise and improved their diet just 10 weeks after receiving their result. 

The findings, published in the international Journal of Medical Internet Research, provide a first-of its-kind insight into the profile of Australians’ heart health and the impact of the Heart Foundation’s Heart Age Calculator on health and lifestyle behaviours. 

Co-author of the study, Risk Reduction Manager, Natalie Raffoul, said the findings showed people with a ‘heart age’ higher than their current age were also more likely to have seen their doctor for a formal Heart Health Check compared to those with a younger or equal heart age.

“This shows that completing the Heart Age Calculator worked very well at raising people’s awareness of their risk of heart disease,” Ms Raffoul said.

“Almost 50 per cent of people who did the test reported later visiting their doctor, and nearly a third reported having a Heart Health Check in the ten weeks after they received their heart age result and follow-up information.

“Two thirds of people had their blood pressure checked and more than half had a cholesterol or diabetes check.”

Two in five (40%) people felt very motivated to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke and nearly one in three (31%) were less stressed and reduced their alcohol intake.

The Heart Age Calculator is an online tool aimed at people aged 35 to 75 years that asks people questions about age, sex, smoking and diabetes status, height and weight, family history of heart disease, and blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Key findings from the research

A follow-up survey of more than 1,300 people ten weeks after they completed the Heart Age Calculator revealed:

  • 2 in 5 (40%) felt very motivated and 1 in 4 (25%) felt very optimistic about making changes
  • 3 in 5 (62%) did more exercise and 2 in 5 (49%) lost weight
  • 3 in 5 (63%) improved their diet and 3 in 10 (31%) reduced their alcohol intake
  • 48% had already seen their GP and 28% had a Heart Health Check
  • 75% had a blood pressure check, 57% had a cholesterol check and 54% had a diabetes check

Lead author, Heart Foundation Research Fellow Dr Carissa Bonner from The University of Sydney, said the results show high public interest in online heart age tools, which can help raise awareness and prompt people to visit their doctor for a more accurate risk assessment.  

“The findings show the Heart Age Calculator can evoke a memorable and emotional response from people. Ten weeks after receiving their heart age report, most survey respondents remembered their result and reported making positive lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke,” Dr Bonner said.

“Key to this process was helping people understand their risk factors more clearly by providing a personalised report and follow-up information about how to reduce their risk.”

As well as the survey, the research looked at the results of more than 360,000 Australians who took the heart age test and found nearly 80 per cent had an older “heart age”, on average nearly five years older than their current age. Men were almost twice as likely to receive an older heart age than women.

“Many Australians who took the heart age test didn’t know their blood pressure or blood cholesterol numbers. Knowing these numbers could save your life, which is why we urge all Australians aged 45 years and over, or 30 years for Indigenous Australians, to see their doctor for a Heart Health Check,” Ms Raffoul said

In Australia, more than 115,000 Australians have received a Heart Health Check from their GP under the Medicare Benefits Scheme since the item was introduced in April 2019 at the urging of the Heart Foundation. 

Since February, one in seven Australians aged between 35-75 have completed the Heart Age Calculator to understand their own risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and what to do next.

The Heart Age Calculator, which was launched in February 2019, is designed for people aged 35 to 75 years who do not have heart disease or have not previously had a heart attack or stroke.

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join the Heart Foundation community. Together, we can make a real difference for Australian hearts. ...

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Visit the St Vincents Hospital NSW and Heart Foundation Aboriginal heart health website for more information...

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Help Keep families together this Christmas

Help Keep families together this Christmas

Help Keep families together this Christmas

Together, we can make heart disease history. Donate today to help fund ground-breaking heart research and keep families together this Christmas. ...

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

We've been working on several projects with local governments across Tasmania, big and small....

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

Stories of hope from Australian men and women fighting heart disease....

What is angina?

What is angina?

What is angina?

Angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that’s a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease (CHD)....

Heart health submissions to Government

Heart health submissions to Government

Every day we are lobbying government and industry to improve heart health....

Cardiomyopathy; another health curveball for Ange

Cardiomyopathy; another health curveball for Ange

Cardiomyopathy; another health curveball for Ange

A story from Ange Foster ...

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Most Australians are eating more than the recommended amounts and this can cause health problems....

Applying for research funding with the Heart Foundation

Applying for research funding with the Heart Foundation

Applying for research funding with the Heart Foundation

Discover more about our various funding programs, requirements, and application dates now....

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

If you have heart disease, you are more vulnerable to severe complications....

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management resources for health professionals...

About the Lighthouse Hospital Project

About the Lighthouse Hospital Project

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Australia, but the burden of disease disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples....

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Get the right balance of healthy fats in your diet ...

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Raffles & Lotteries

Give yourself a chance to win $20,000 while helping the Heart Foundation to raise essential funds for heart research....

Know your risk: Family history and heart disease 

Know your risk: Family history and heart disease 

Know your risk: Family history and heart disease 

A family history of heart disease could mean you are at greater risk....

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

Looking to claim your donations in your tax return this financial year?...

Heart Foundation Tick

Heart Foundation Tick

Heart Foundation Tick

The Tick Program has made a substantial contribution to the health of Australians over the past 26 years....

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Find heart healthy kids recipes...

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

The Blueprint for an active Australia provides evidence-based actions to help address physical inactivity....

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

We value the support of all of our corporate partners....