Do you have heart risk factors?

New Heart Foundation data, released to mark Heart Week, reveals that more than two-thirds of Australian adults have at least three risk factors for heart disease.

The data revealed 7 million men over the age of 18 (76.5 per cent) and 6 million women (62 per cent) have three or more risk factors for heart disease.

Heart Foundation chief medical adviser Professor Garry Jennings said the numbers were shocking.

“This is alarming, because we know that the more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke,” Prof. Jennings said.

Other disturbing survey findings on individual risk factors included:

  • 92 per cent of Australian adults ate too few vegetables
  • 83 per cent were not active enough
  • 67 per cent were overweight or obese
  • 23 per cent had measured high blood pressure.

Prof. Jennings said the theme of Heart Week was about encouraging Australians to visit their doctor for a Medicare-funded heart health check.

“The good news is that Australians aged 45 years and over, and Indigenous Australians from 30 years, can now see their GP for a heart health check covered by Medicare to manage their risk of heart attack or stroke in the next five years,” said Prof. Jennings.

It is estimated the check could prevent on average 42 heart events every day for the next five years, including heart attacks, strokes and deaths.

After years of campaigning by the Heart Foundation, the check became covered by Medicare from 1 April this year.

A heart health check performed by your doctor involves an assessment of your risk factors for heart disease (such as blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, diet and physical activity levels).

The most important part of the process is working with your doctor to manage your risk of heart disease through lifestyle changes, such as exercise, and possibly medications.

“People are used to seeing their GPs when they feel unwell but heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or family history of heart disease are often silent or symptom free,” Prof. Jennings said.

“Having a heart health check gives you the best chance of reducing your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

“No one wants a heart attack to be the first sign that something is wrong with their heart.”

With a heart health check, your doctor will gather information about all risk factors and use a calculator to determine how likely it is that you will have a heart attack or stroke in the next five years.

“While you can’t change your family history, it’s important to understand that if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or lifestyle risk factors, you can certainly act to reduce your risk,” Prof. Jennings said.

Have you booked in for your free heart health check?

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Ben

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