Exmouth man’s life-saving weightloss story supports Public Health England heart campaign
PUBLISHED: 18:00 18 September 2018
An Exmouth man whose dramatic weight loss added decades to his life-expectancy is using his story to support Public Health England’s campaign to improve heart health across the South West.
People in the South West are being urged to discover their true ‘heart age’ after it was revealed 10,076 people die from a heart attack or stroke each year in the region.
According to Public Health England, one in four of these deaths are people aged 75 or under, and in many cases can be prevented with lifestyle changes.
Tony Westaway, 59, from Exmouth, has a heart age of 70 - but before he joined a weight loss programme at Slimming World, it was 81. Struck with pneumonia in 2012, Tony’s illness lasted for eight months and he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat.
“My heart health was in such a bad state overall that I was sent directly to A&E and was made to travel in a wheelchair instead of walking, because a heart attack was so imminent,” said Tony.
“Once at the hospital, I underwent various tests, one of which showed that I had already suffered a heart attack that had gone undetected.
“Since losing weight, my heart is back to full function – although I will always need to take medication for my irregular heartbeat – and my doctor has said that decades have been added to my life thanks to the weight loss.”
Public Health England is urging adults in the South West to take a free, online Heart Age Test, which provides an immediate estimation of their ‘heart age’ and whether they are at increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Debbie Stark, of Public Health England South West, said the figures were ‘worrying’ and welcomed the Heart Age Test to help people decide on lifestyle and behaviour changes they needed to reduce their chances of a heart attack or stroke.
The test asks physical and lifestyle questions, provides an immediate estimation of someone’s heart age and a prediction of their risk of heart attack or stroke by a certain age. It gives suggestions on lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising regularly and cutting back on alcohol. The Heart Age campaign will run until September 30. Search ‘heart age’ to take the free online test.