Public Health England is recommending people over 30 to take an online test to find out their heart age, which indicates if they are at increased risk of agony a heart attack or a stroke.
They predict about 80% of heart attacks and strokes in people under 75 could be prevented if heart health was improved.
Unhealthy lifestyles put four in five adults at risk of early death, they estimate.
People should quit smoking, eat a healthy diet and get enough exercise.
The test is not diagnostic – it will not tell you whether you are going to have a heart attack – but it can be a wake-up call to make healthy changes.
David Green, who is 59, took the test.
“The worst moment was being told my heart is 10 years older than me and that my life expectancy was shortened, ” he told the BBC.
“That took some digesting for sure, but I flipped it to a positive statement to do something to reverse that scenario.”
David took the test after he struggled to keep up with rehearsals for his role in The Full Monty with his local theatre company in Plymouth.
He had never heard of heart age, but said he would have guessed he was only a few years off.
“I’m 59 now so I thought ‘oh perhaps it’ll be 62 or 63 ‘, so a whole 10 years – that was a real shocker.
“They told me that ‘you really need to do something otherwise you’re not going to see that much of your pension’.
“I think that was the most important thing for me, I’d merely retired, I’d like to live a bit longer thank you very much.”
Obesity, poor diet, a lack of exercise and high blood pressure are significant risk factors for the heart that can be changed.
How to improve your heart health:
Give up smoking Get active Manage your weight Eat more fibre Cut down on saturated fat Get your five a day fruit and vegetables Cut down on salt Eat fish Drink less alcohol Read labels on food and beverage packaging