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
For more information, go to: clevelandclinic.org/loveyourheart
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.