DAVE Lancaster is living proof of the need to look after your heart.
Just a couple of years ago the 45-year-old from Warwick weighed more than 34 stone and was on medication for a long list of health problems including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnoea – before he decided to lose weight with the help of Slimming World in April 2016.
And now he is urging people to take a free online Heart Age Test during September. Public Health England is calling for adults to take the test which will provide an immediate estimation of their ‘heart age’. If someone’s heart age is higher than their actual age, they are at an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Dave’s starting heart age was 55, but after losing more than 20 stone he no longer needs to take any medication, his blood sugar reading has dropped from 94 to 25 – meaning he displays no type 2 diabetes symptoms, his blood pressure is in the range of a man 20 years younger, and his new heart age is just one year older than him.
Dave said: “I’d been overweight for as long as I could remember. I tried all sorts of things to lose weight, and I even lost 10st on a meal replacement diet – but I learned nothing about healthy eating.
“When I went back to my usual sausage and egg muffin breakfast, rounds of sandwiches and crisps for lunch, and takeaways polished off with two or three bottles of wine at the end of the day, I quickly regained the weight.
“At my biggest, my health really started to suffer. I had type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain, high cholesterol, the beginnings of gout and sleep apnoea. I found it difficult to walk to the end of my road, so I rarely went out.
“As I got bigger and bigger, it felt as though my world was gradually shrinking. I knew I needed help, and finally I decided to give Slimming World a try and joined my local group – run by my former neighbour. As I walked through the door she recognised me straight away, despite us having not seen each other for years.
“Since losing weight, my health has improved dramatically. I no longer need to take medication, my blood sugar reading has dropped from 94 to 25, meaning that I no longer have Type 2 diabetes, I have a resting heart rate of 40bpm, my blood pressure has dropped from 140/77 to 116/68 and I no longer have high cholesterol. I don’t need glasses now, either – an unexpectedly positive side effect of my reduced blood sugar levels.”
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), with stroke and heart attack being the most common examples, is the leading cause of death for men, and the second leading cause of death for women.
In the West Midlands there are around 6,000 deaths from heart disease and 3,200 deaths from stroke each year. It is estimated four out of five were preventable if people made lifestyle and behaviour changes to improve their heart health.
Knowing their heart age helps people to find out whether they are at risk and consider what they can do to reduce this risk.
The Heart Age Test asks a number of simple physical and lifestyle questions and provides an immediate estimation of someone’s heart age, as well as a prediction of the risk of having a heart attack or stroke by a certain age. It also gives suggestions on lifestyle changes to help people reduce their heart age such as losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising regularly and cutting back on alcohol.
Visit www.nhs.uk and search for NHS Health Check to take the test.