LONDON: A survey commissioned by Cleveland Clinic London, part of Cleveland Clinic’s global health system, found that adults in London reported a decrease in physical activity levels since the pandemic struck. The proportion of Londoners who said they never or rarely exercised moderately to vigorously rose from 35% pre-pandemic to 42% currently, while those who often walk throughout the day fell from 45% to 38%.
Older generations have seen a greater decline in physical activity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic with Boomers who sometimes or often undertook moderate to vigorous exercise falling from 61% pre-pandemic to 57% currently. Respondents aged between 18-25 reported only a 2 percentage point drop (61% pre-pandemic vs. 59% currently).
The survey also asked Londoners about their diet. The majority of adults in the capital can correctly identify heart-healthy diets, such as the Mediterranean diet (49%), but a majority do not follow any specific diet (68%).
When presented with a list of 10 diets, 49% of adults identified the Mediterranean diet as among the most heart-healthy, followed by a plant-based diet (26%) and a vegetarian diet including eggs and dairy (26%). In contrast, only 7% of Londoners follow a Mediterranean diet, 4% a plant-based diet and 10% a vegetarian diet, with 68% of Londoners reporting that they don’t follow any specific diets.
“A heart healthy diet coupled with regular physical activity is the best way to prevent heart disease. It is encouraging to find there is considerable awareness among adults on what constitutes a heart-healthy diet, but it is important that people follow healthy eating habits to help prevent heart disease,” said Bernard Prendergast, MD, chairman of Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic London.
The survey also investigated London adults’ knowledge of other factors that can increase risk of heart disease and found that the majority were able to identify key risk factors such as obesity (84%), smoking/vaping (78%), not exercising enough (72%), and high blood pressure (81%). However, many did not know that the following less-significant factors can increase risk for developing heart disease: lack of sleep (identified by 50%), poor dental health (identified by 32%) and over-exercising (identified by 22%).
“According to the British Heart Foundation, there are around 7.6 million people living with a heart or circulatory disease in the UK: 4 million men and 3.6 million women. Since we know that 90% of heart disease is preventable through a healthier diet, regular exercise, and not smoking, now is the time to put our knowledge into action and refocus on our heart health,” said Dr. Prendergast. “This is particularly important during the current global health crisis as our survey also shows a general decrease in activity levels after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
From the survey results, it appears that activity levels changed more during the pandemic than people’s diets, with the proportion of adults saying that they rarely or never followed a specific diet remaining relatively unchanged (69% pre-pandemic vs. 68% currently).
Cleveland Clinic, a global health system first established in the US in 1921, regularly commissions heart health surveys in various countries. The London survey was conducted at the end of last month and the results are being published to coincide with National Heart Month, an annual awareness initiative of the British Heart Foundation.
Cleveland Clinic is the No.1 hospital in the world for cardiac surgery, according to Newsweek’s World’s Best Specialized Hospitals of 2022. Cleveland Clinic has been ranked the No. 1 hospital in the country for cardiology and cardiac surgery for 27 years in a row by U.S. News & World Report.
Cleveland Clinic has been a leader in heart care since the 1940s, when Arda Green, M.D., and Irvine Page, M.D., led research teams that isolated serotonin and linked high blood pressure to heart disease.
Cleveland Clinic’s cardiac-related discoveries and “firsts” have continued since then. Cleveland Clinic has:
- Performed the world’s first successful stopped heart surgery in clinical practice (Donald Effler, M.D., and Laurence Groves, M.D., 1956)
- Developed selective coronary angiography (Mason Sones, M.D., 1958)
- Helped establish cholesterol/heart disease risk (Irvine Page, M.D., and Helen Brown, Ph.D., 1958-65)
- Pioneered coronary bypass surgery (Rene Favaloro, M.D., 1967)
- Developed new standard of care for bypass surgery, using the mammary artery (Dr. Favaloro and Floyd Loop, M.D., 1971)
- Invented new devices for heart valve repair (Toby Cosgrove, M.D., 1980)
- Directed the Reversal trial, the first study to show that high doses of statins could halt the progression of coronary artery disease (Steven Nissen, M.D., 2003)
- Linked gut bacteria to high cholesterol, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease (Stanley Hazen, M.D., Ph.D., 2011/ongoing)
Survey methodology: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,024 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18-20 January 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+).
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