Public Unaware That Heart Risks Are Controllable, a Cleveland Clinic Survey Finds

British public aren’t aware of the impact they can have on their heart health and underestimate the threat of heart disease

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LONDON – According to a Cleveland Clinic survey of more than 2000 adults in the UK, there is a lack of public awareness that most heart disease can be prevented or managed with simple lifestyle changes. Even though 90% of heart disease is due to risk factors that individuals can control themselves, only five percent of Britons are aware of this.

There is also confusion over what steps can be taken to prevent heart disease. Although 42% of respondents appropriately identified a Mediterranean diet as the healthiest option for the heart, one third (32%) of people incorrectly believe that a low-fat diet is better.

In addition, almost half (47%) of those surveyed (and 63% of those aged 65) still believe that taking an aspirin a day is a good way for healthy people to prevent heart disease. Just over half (51%) of the UK public do not know their blood pressure level, with a particular lack of awareness amongst younger age groups.

As well as a lack of awareness concerning risk factors, the UK public underestimates the dangers of heart disease. For example, the survey found that 70% are unaware that heart disease is the foremost killer of women (and not breast cancer, as the majority believes). Overall, heart and circulatory diseases account for more than one in four deaths in the UK.

“While the treatment of heart disease has moved on a long way in recent years, there is still a lot of work to be done on prevention. Simple changes to diet and lifestyle can make a real difference to cardiovascular health and dramatically decrease the risk of heart disease,” said Olaf Wendler, Professor of cardiac surgery and chairman of the Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic London. “Education is key to helping people to understand the risks of heart disease and what can be done to control heart health.”

Some simple steps to help prevent heart disease

According to the British Heart Foundation, about 170,000 people die of heart disease in the UK every year. To help people help themselves, Professor Bernard Prendergast, Cleveland Clinic London’s chairman of cardiology, shares some top tips to prevent heart disease:

  • Stop smoking
  • Live an active lifestyle
  • Manage your weight
  • Be aware of your blood pressure
  • Reduce your alcohol intake
  • Try to manage and reduce your stress levels
  • Try to have a healthier diet

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Cleveland Clinic’s survey of the general population gathered insights into public perception of heart health and prevention in the UK. This was an online survey conducted among a national probability sample consisting of 2,090 adults aged 18 years of age and older, living in the United Kingdom. The online survey was conducted by Populus Data Solutions and completed between 13th-14th January 2020. The theoretical margin of error for a total sample of n=2090 is ±2.14 in 95 out of 100 cases.

About Cleveland Clinic London
Cleveland Clinic London opens in Spring 2021. It will have 185 inpatient beds; eight operating rooms; a full imaging suite; endoscopy and cardiac catheterisation laboratories; day case rooms for surgery; and a full neurological suite with rehabilitation. Beside comprehensive cardiovascular and thoracic services, it will offer orthopaedics, digestive diseases, neurosciences and general surgery.

About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. For the past quarter of a century, Cleveland Clinic has been ranked the No. 1 hospital for heart care according to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 66,000 employees are more than 4,200 salaried physicians and researchers and 16,600 nurses, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic’s health system includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 11 regional hospitals in northeast Ohio, more than 180 northern Ohio outpatient locations – including 18 full-service family health centers and three health and wellness centers – and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2018, there were 7.9 million total outpatient visits, 238,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 220,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at Follow us at and News and resources available at

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