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Eur J Public Health. 2020 Mar 24. pii: ckaa048. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckaa048. [Epub ahead of print]

Evaluating the use of the heart age tool in community pharmacies: a 4-week cluster-randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Nutrition, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
The Lipid Clinic, Department of Endocrinology, Morbid Obesity and Preventive Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.
Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.
Boots Norge AS, Oslo, Norway.
Faculty of Health Sciences, Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway.



Joint British Societies have developed a tool that utilizes information on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors to estimate an individual's 'heart age'. We studied if using heart age as an add-on to conventional risk communication could enhance the motivation for adapting to a healthier lifestyle resulting in improved whole-blood cholesterol and omega-3 status after 4 weeks.


A total of 48 community pharmacies were cluster-randomized to use heart age+conventional risk communication (intervention) or only conventional risk communication (control) in 378 subjects after CVD risk-factor assessment. Dried blood spots were obtained with a 4-week interval to assay whole-blood cholesterol and omega-3 fatty acids. We also explored pharmacy-staff's (n=27) perceived utility of the heart age tool.


Subjects in the intervention pharmacies (n=137) had mean heart age 64 years and chorological age 60 years. In these, cholesterol decreased by median (interquartile range) -0.10 (-0.40, 0.35) mmol/l. Cholesterol decreased by -0.20 (-0.70, 0.30) mmol/l (P difference =0.24) in subjects in the control pharmacies (n=120) with mean chronological age 60 years. We observed increased concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids after 4 weeks, non-differentially between groups. Pharmacy-staff (n=27) agreed that heart age was a good way to communicate CVD risk, and most (n=25) agreed that it appeared to motivate individuals to reduce elevated CVD risk factors.


The heart age tool was considered a convenient and motivating communication tool by pharmacy-staff. Nevertheless, communicating CVD risk as heart age was not more effective than conventional risk communication alone in reducing whole-blood cholesterol levels and improving omega-3 status.


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