Heart Disease is the single leading cause of death in Australia

One Australian dies every 30 minutes from heart disease

Over half of all Australians live with three or more modifiable risk factors for heart disease

Two common forms of heart disease you may have heard about are heart attack and stroke. Every hour, five Australians die as a result of heart attacks, strokes of blood vessel disease, known as cardiovascular disease (CVD). Heart attacks and strokes not only impact the potential length of your life, but also the quality of your life following the event. Those that survive are often left with disabilities and long-term health problems that affect the quality of your life following the event.


What can you do to reduce your risk of heart disease?

Being aware of your cardiovascular risk, lifestyle factors and other conditions that can have an impact on your heart is an important first step to reducing your future risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event. It’s never too early to improve your heart health. You can start today by making small changes that can significantly reduce risk of heart disease in the long term. Unmanaged risk factors account for 90% of the risk of heart attack in Australians.

There are two types of cardiovascular risk factors that help your doctor predict your future risk of developing heart disease.

Cardiovascular risk factors you can control:

  • Whether you smoke – this is one of the most important factors you can change, if you are a current smoker seek advice to help you quit
  • Your blood pressure – there are often no signs or symptoms that your blood pressure is raised so having it checked annually and taking any medications prescribed are important steps to keeping your heart healthy
  • Your cholesterol levels – raised cholesterol levels lead to narrowing or even blockages of your blood vessels. There are often no signs or symptoms that your cholesterol is too high.
  • Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM) – People with T2DM have an increased risk of heart disease compared to people without. Maintaining good control of this condition is an important part of reducing your future risk.
  • Levels of physical activity – aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day, those with sedentary lifestyles are more likely to experience a cardiovascular event
  • Diet – maintain a balanced diet which includes lots of whole foods
  • Increased stress – The stress we feel in life can have an effect on your heart health, take steps to manage and reduce your stress levels where possible

During appointments with you GP or cardiologist they will often discuss the risk factors that you can control and help you to minimise their impact on your heart risk. You can make changes to these risk factors at any age, its never too early to start looking after your heart health.

Cardiovascular risk factors out of your control:

  • Age – age we age our risk of heart disease increases
  • Gender – males have a slightly higher risk of heart disease, but heart disease is still the biggest health issue effecting both men and women in Australia
  • Family history – if you have a family member who experienced a heart attack or stroke before the age of 60 you might also be at increased risk of future heart disease.
  • Your cultural background – some ethnicities carry a higher risk of developing heart disease

If you would like to understand your future risk of heart disease and are aged over 45 (30 for Aboriginal and TSI) ask your GP to perform a medicare rebated heart health check. Your doctor will assess several known cardiovascular risk factors to estimate your risk over the next 5 years. By understanding your risk you can make the changes required to reduce the risk of a future cardiac event.

If you’ve seen your GP and they have raised concerns about your future cardiovascular risk.