Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Take the New Home Test to Assess Your Chances of a Heart Attack; after Robin Cook's Death, What You Need to Know

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Take the New Home Test to Assess Your Chances of a Heart Attack; after Robin Cook's Death, What You Need to Know

Article excerpt

Byline: ALISON TYLER

THE sudden death of 59-year-old Robin Cook has brought the spectre of heart disease back into the headlines.

A s the single biggest killer of British people, it is no respecter of age - more than 270,000 people in the UK suffer a heart attack each year. And while most heart attacks are in people over 65, they often occur much earlier, particularly in men and women with high-blood pressure or raised cholesterol levels. Smokers and obese people are at increased risk.

In a bid to curb the rise in heart attacks, GPs are now using computer programmes to predict the chances of succumbing to heart disease. The Cardiac Risk Assessor takes into account factors including age, blood pressure and cholesterol levels to work out patients' odds of a heart attack or stroke within 10 years.

Anyone with more than a 15 per cent risk of attack over 10 years is regarded by most doctors as cause for concern enough to warrant some form of intervention (from lifestyle change, to drugs such as aspirin and cholesterol-lowering statins).

You can test yourself to measure your risk of heart disease by loading the Cardiac Risk Assessor programme from www.bnf.org.uk.

You will need to know your blood pressure and cholesterol level (the total reading and the level of your good and bad cholesterols - HDL and LDL). You can now buy home-testing kits for both from most chemists, including Boots.

Nearly 80 per cent of heart attacks happen in the home and of these around 30 per cent of people die before reaching hospital. Finding out your heart attack risk level can be crucial.

If you are high-risk, as well as making lifestyle changes (see right), you can buy a home defibrillator to restart the heart. Philips has created the first for home use, at [pounds sterling]1,296.

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