Line of work relates to heart health, reveals Bupa

29 September 2016
Heart surgeon
  • Teachers and medical professionals’ hearts in the best condition whilst manual workers fare the worst 
  • Workplace health initiatives can mean improved heart health for employees
  • Smokers’ hearts are up to eight years older than their real age, on average

On World Heart Day, research from Bupa has found that there is a relationship between jobs and heart health, and workers who aren’t offered workplace health initiatives have hearts up to 1.7 years older than their real age.  

For Hearts at Work, a campaign created by Bupa and the World Heart Federation, over 60,000 consumers globally took a heart age check. The check calculates the user’s heart age based on personal health details such as blood pressure, family medical history, and lifestyle risk factors such as smoking. 

“Heart age” is a simple, cost-effective way to communicate individuals’ risk of heart disease, using an evidence-based algorithm which is supported by the World Heart Federation.

Different occupations and heart health 

The data from the check found that teachers and those working in medicine had the best heart health. Medical professionals had a heart age 1.7 years younger than their real age on average, whilst teachers were just 0.1 years older.

On the other hand, manual workers and employees within the transport and logistics and construction sectors were found to have the worst heart health, with lifestyle risk factors for heart disease such as smoking being extremely high within these industries.

Nearly a third (30%) of manual workers who took the heart age check smoked vs. 13% of medical professionals – the lowest smoking rates out of all professions who took the test.

Furthermore, those taking the test who smoked were found to have heart ages eight years older than their real age – demonstrating how damaging smoking is to heart health. 

Heart health table

Risk factors and workplace health initiatives 

The research also showed that the heart age of people whose employers offer workplace health initiatives tends to be lower. 

Respondents were asked whether their employer offered healthy eating choices, digital health tools, gyms, stop smoking services, and mental health services such as counselling. 

The research found that respondents who had no workplace health initiatives offered to them had a heart age 1.7 years older than their real age compared with those who were offered all such healthy initiatives – a significant increase. 
Dr. Fiona Adshead, Chief Wellbeing Officer at Bupa said: “The data from the heart age check confirms what we’ve known for some time – that people’s health varies with job type and economic sector; and is related to a number of different factors such as socioeconomic determinants, lifestyle and the physical environment.” 

“However, it also shows that employers can have a significant impact on the health of their employees by making relatively small changes. Whilst not all businesses may have the resources to put into place extensive workplace health programmes, even small provisions like digital health tools or stop smoking services can make a big difference in helping employees be heart-healthier and more heart-aware.  

“Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death globally and with half of the world’s population in work, employers have a huge opportunity to support their employees in having longer, healthier, happier lives.”  
Johanna Ralston, CEO of the World Heart Federation commented: “This World Heart Day, we’re encouraging people everywhere to think about how they can improve their heart health – just a few simple steps such as eating more healthily, cutting down on alcohol and stopping smoking can improve your heart health and your overall well-being. Employers can play a big part in helping their employees do this.” 

The concept of ‘heart age’ was created to help people to improve their perception of their heart attack or stroke risk, and provide motivation to change their lifestyle, as heart disease is the number one cause of death globally.1

The Hearts at Work API was created by Habit Partners.


For further information please contact:

Sirina Parr, Senior Corporate Communications Manager, Bupa: / 0207 656 2669 / 07877 956 822 

Notes to editor

The heart age check was completed by 60,790 international respondents from September 2015 – September 2016. The respondents were not weighted internationally, but taken from a broadly representative sample. 

The research was not designed to be statistically significant or represent a clinical trial. It was designed to identify correlations between heart health and workplaces. 

The heart age check is not a medical diagnostic and is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent disease. The test is not suitable for those with existing heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes. 

A more accurate heart age can be estimated if a user enters key risk factors, such as their blood pressure or cholesterol. If these are unavailable an estimate will be used based on the users age and gender and whether they have been diagnosed by a health care professional.

About the World Heart Federation 

The World Heart Federation is dedicated to leading the global fight against cardiovascular disease (CVD) – including heart disease and stroke - with a focus on low- and middle-income countries, via a united community of more than 200 member organizations. It aligns its efforts around the World Health Organization’s related target of reducing premature CVD mortality of 25% by 2025. With its members, the World Heart Federation works to build global commitment to addressing cardiovascular health at the policy level, generates and exchanges ideas, shares best practice, advances scientific knowledge and promotes knowledge transfer to tackle cardiovascular disease- the number one killer. It is a growing membership organization that brings together the strength of cardiac societies and heart foundations from more than 100 countries. Through our collective efforts we can help people all over the world to lead longer and better heart-healthy lives.

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

We have 15.5m health insurance customers, provide healthcare to over 14.5m people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 22,900 aged care residents.

We employ over 78,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland. We also have associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

Health insurance is around 70% of our business. In a number of countries, we also run clinics, dental centres, hospitals and care homes and villages.

For more information, visit

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