The majority of British adults do not realise that most heart disease can be prevented or managed with simple lifestyle changes, research suggests.
The 185-bed Cleveland Clinic – which is set to open one of the country’s largest and most advanced private hospitals in London next year – said its survey of 2,000 adults found that although 90% of heart disease is a result of risk factors that individuals can control themselves, only 5% of Brits are aware of this.
There is also confusion over what steps can be taken to prevent heart disease, the research shows.
Although 42% of respondents appropriately identified a Mediterranean diet as the healthiest option for the heart, 32% incorrectly thought a low-fat diet is better.
PUBLIC UNAWARE OF HEART HEALTH RISKS – AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO PREVENT THEM
* 90% of those surveyed believe heart disease is due to risk factors that individuals can control themselves
* 5% of people are aware that heart disease is due to risk factors that individuals can control themselves
* 42% of respondents appropriately identified a Mediterranean diet as the healthiest option for the heart
* 32% of respondents incorrectly believe that a low-fat diet is better than a Mediterranean diet
* 47% (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
* 51% of the UK public do not know their blood pressure level
* 70% are unaware that heart disease is the foremost killer of women (and not breast cancer, as the majority believes)
Source: Survey of 2,090 adults in the UK, conducted by Populus Data Solutions on behalf of The Cleveland Clinic
In addition, 47% still believe that taking an aspirin a day is a good way for healthy people to prevent heart disease.
Just over half (51%) do not know their blood pressure level, with a particular lack of awareness among younger age groups.
The survey also found Brits tend to underestimate the dangers of heart disease. For example, 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.
Olaf Wendler, professor of cardiac surgery and chairman of the Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic London, said the treatment of heart disease has moved on a long way in recent years, but 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,” he said. “Education is key to helping people to understand the risks of heart disease and what can be done to control heart health.”