Eight in 10 Australians likely to have a heart attack: study

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This year, around one million – or one in 11 – Australians aged between 35 and 75 have completed the Heart Age Calculator on the Heart Foundation website.

The calculator assesses a person’s heart age, so that they can better understand their risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and what they can do about it.

Of the one million who took the test, an alarming eight in 10 were at higher risk of a heart attack.

“Close to one in six people who did the test had a heart age at least 10 years higher than their real age, suggesting they have a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to the average person their age,” said the Heart Foundation’s Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly.

The test takes less than a minute to complete. By answering questions about age, sex, smoking and diabetes status, height and weight, cholesterol, blood pressure levels, medicines, and family history of heart attack or stroke, the calculator provides a heart age, which is an initial indication of a person’s overall risk for heart disease compared to a defined healthy range.

A heart age older than a person’s biological age indicates increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Only eight per cent of test participants had a heart age equal to their physical age and 13 per cent had a heart age lower than their biological age.

Two in five of those who knew their cholesterol levels had a high total cholesterol level, and of those who knew their blood pressure, one in six had a high systolic blood pressure.

“This is a concern because high blood pressure and cholesterol are two key risk factors for heart disease, they are also silent risk factors so many people could be living with high cholesterol or blood pressure and not know it,” said Prof. Kelly.

Heart disease kills 48 people a day in Australia, causing 57,000 heart attacks a year. This number is rising, too. While more successful treatments are saving lives, Prof. Kelly warns that Australians needed to do more to protect their heart health.

“Despite advances in treatment, research and prevention, heart disease still kills about 17,500 Australians each year – which equates to around 48 people every day.

“The Heart Age Calculator is helping to educate Australians about the risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure and cholesterol levels, family history of heart disease, smoking and being overweight.

“It is encouraging that one million Australians have taken personal responsibility to learn more about their risk for heart disease, but this is only the first step.

“We recommend that everyone aged 45 – and 30 and over for Indigenous Australians – see their GP for a Heart Health Check. Your doctor will help you understand more about your risk factors and will work with you to improve your heart health and lower your risk.”

Do you know your heart age? Why not take the test and tell us?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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