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David asked...

I'd like to find out my risk of heart/stroke issues...

Hi There. I'd like to find out my risk of heart/stroke issues. I'm aged 55. The reason for my concern is that my father had a quadruple heart-bypass aged 65, my grandmother died of cardiac arrest aged 70, and my cousin, aged 57, has just suffered a stroke. I'm generally healthy, cycle, and have always had a decent low cholesterol level. However, I'm still concerned due to my family history. What would you advise? thanks.

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The answer

Thank you for contacting us with your question. While there is no one size fits all test to assess your risk of developing heart disease or stroke there are some tests that can be performed to give both you and your Dr an overall idea. Bear in mind that as well as the test results there are some basic lifestyle choices that can be made to help to reduce your overall risk of developing heart disease ( which is associated with strokes developing) in spite of your family history.

When looking to assess someones likelihood of developing heart disease tests that are likely to be performed include blood pressure recording, blood sugar testing, Full blood cholesterol count and weight. Family history will also be taken into account but by adopting a healthy lifestyle including not smoking regular exercise and a healthy diet low in saturated fats and by keeping cholesterol levels within the normal range you will be reducing your risk factors for this.

Areas of health that influence the risk of a person developing heart disease are:

Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, being overweight, diabetes, Ethnic background, sex, males are more likely to develop heart disease earlier than women, family history as you are aware, amount of alcohol intake, stress and the type of work being performed are all factors that will influence your risk.

As you can see family history is only one of several risk factors over which you are able to have a positive influence.

To undergo testing to assess you overall likely risk of developing heart disease you may be interested in the health checks offered by the NHS which include an assessment of your risk of developing heart disease or a stroke, we have enclosed a link to information about these and where to get them for you. It is also now possible to undertake a simple test which provides a guide to finding your actual heart age and we are enclosing a link for you to do this as well;

Health check - NHS

Heartage

It is also possible to have a heart disease risk check at some private hospitals and clinics who offer a variety of differing well man checks which you may be interested in as well. If you have a policy with us then you can contact your policy team to ask if you can arrange to have this and they will be able to guide you from there.

We do hope this information will be of use and wish you the very best with this.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses