Resuscitation Council UK
The Resuscitation Council UK have produced an interactive film, Lifesaver. To watch and join in with this film please click here.
Risk of Cardiovascular disease:
The health screen we offer uses several factors to estimate an individual risk of heart and circulation disease in the next 10 years. (Qrisk: http://qrisk.org/index.php)
These factors include age, sex, smoking, blood pressure, ethnicity, cholesterol, social deprivation, kidney disease, obesity.
If your risk score is <20% then you are said to be at low risk.
If your cardiovascular risk is >20% then you are at moderate risk.
>40% is high risk.
So, more importantly, what can I do about it?
We talk about 'modifiable' risk factors:
Smoking, weight, exercise levels, cholesterol levels, blood pressure.
i.e.: if we can change some of these things we can improve our risk of having heart/circulatory disease.
So what are the benefits if I try to live a healthier lifestyle?
You can use this Qrisk web calculator (http://qrisk.org/index.php) to see how altering things about you might lower your risk of heart disease: for instance ... you could see what happens if you stopped smoking or lost weight.
For example if I am male, 65yrs old, smoker, BMI 26, cholesterol 5: My risk comes out at 23%. If I stop smoking my risk falls to 18%!
Healthy lifestyle and exercise:
It should not be a surprise that we can reduce our risk by keeping healthy. It's much harder to put a figure on the benefits of exercise but it is likely to be large.
So now I know my cholesterol level ... should I try to change it?
What does this cholesterol reading mean to me personally?
http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Cholesterol.htm (you can find out more info here).
Most cholesterol is made in the liver so you can't change it that much by diet (even if you only ate lettuce your liver would make cholesterol!)
So realistically if you are going to lower cholesterol levels significantly then we are talking about taking a daily 'Statin' tablet, usually 'Simvastatin or Atorvastatin'.
NICE has said that people with a risk of >20% can be offered Statins on the NHS.
Thinking if taking Statins?
How much benefit will it give me?
We should not give the impression that statins by themselves are a panacea. They have some benefits.
The following Link give you an idea of this...
You can skip halfway down to the smiley faces diagram ... the first few pages are a bit technical.
Looking at the illustrations you will see that the benefits of statins increase as your risk increases.
This is why we definitely recommend them for the high risk people who have had heart attacks and strokes or diabetes (over 40 yrs old) or familial hypercholesterolemia.
Most of us will fall in the 20% risk group and that means if 100 of us take statins for 10 yrs then 5 of us will be 'saved' from having an 'event', sadly 15 of us will have an event anyway and the remaining 80 of us will not have an event whether we take pills or not!
So you can see, it comes down to an individual choice and perception of risk.
The majority of people taking statins for so called 'primary prevention' (ie they have not had a heart attack or stroke) will take them for no benefit. But you might be one of the 5 in 100 that does benefit and so you may decide it is worth taking the Statin tablets for 10 yrs.
Some people do not like taking daily tablets. Some are fearful of side effects. You may feel that it is more natural to reduce your risk by lifestyle factors.
It all depends...
That's why we are all different as individuals and have a choice!
Your GP can advise you but it is very much a personal decision.