Just one in ten people in Britain most fear developing heart disease over other health conditions despite it being the leading cause of death in the UK.
Worryingly, even having a heart attack or stroke would only prompt half of Brits to start looking after their heart health and just 57% would be willing to take action if told their heart was at risk.
The findings from a nationwide study of nearly 2000 adults by Lloydspharmacy to mark National Heart Month show many people are failing to take some of the biggest heart disease risk factors seriously – 38% admitted they never check their blood pressure and 59% never check their cholesterol levels.
Heart disease is now by far the biggest cause of death among women in the UK, accounting for three times as many deaths as breast cancer, yet the research showed that just 15% of women check their blood pressure regularly, a stark contrast to over half ensuring they check their breasts and 64% attending regular cervical smear tests.
Alison Freemantle, heart health expert at Lloydspharmacy, said: “With your heart it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘out of sight out of mind’ – people are more likely to focus on health issues that they can see or that have more obvious symptoms. The good news is there are simple steps people can take to help maintain a healthy heart.
“Whilst most people are likely to know their weight and monitor it regularly we need to get to a place where people know their blood pressure just as well. By having regular check-ups and making simple lifestyle changes, such as doing moderate exercise and cutting down on alcohol, you really can reduce your risk. That’s why we’re encouraging people to take advantage of the advice we can offer and take their heart health much more seriously.”
It appears that people have a ‘head in the sand’ attitude when it comes to looking after their hearts. Almost two thirds admitted that they don’t do anything to look after the health of their heart - with a quarter saying they would rather not think about it and one in ten saying they are just too busy.
To help the nation take control of their heart health Lloydspharmacy has launched an online heart health calculator which shows your potential risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) over the next 10 years, and then offers advice on simple steps to reduce it. The calculator coincides with the pharmacy chain launching a free heart health assessment service in stores, giving customers tailored advice on how to improve their heart health.
Blood Pressure UK is backing the new heart health assessment service. Professor MacGregor Chairman and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the charity said: “A lot of people think they don’t need to worry about their blood pressure until later in life, but high blood pressure can affect you at any age. It’s often dubbed the ‘silent killer’ due to lack of symptoms – but if ignored it can be very dangerous, so it’s vital to have your blood pressure checked regularly.”