The Heart Foundation says of the 1,300 Australians who completed its online heart age test, 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 and been published in the international Journal of Medical Internet Research.
The Heart Foundation said the findings provide a first-of-a-kind insight into the profile of the heart health of Australians and the impact of its Heart Age Calculator.
Co-author of the study and risk reduction manager Natalie Raffoul said the findings show 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,” said Ms Raffoul.
“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 per cent) people felt very motivated to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke and nearly one in three (31 per cent) 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.
According to lead author, Heart Foundation research fellow Dr Carissa Bonner from The University of Sydney, 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,” said Dr Bonner.
“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,” said Ms Raffoul.