Middle-aged Canberrans are being urged to visit their doctor to check on their heart after a new report into local health statistics showed some concerning results.
After years of campaigning, the Heart Foundation has introduced a heart health check covered by Medicare which can reveal the likelihood of an individual suffering a heart attack or stroke in the next five years.
With a heart health check, doctors will gather information about all risk factors and use a calculator to determine how likely it is that their patient will suffer from an attack.
Australians aged 45 years and over and Indigenous Australians from 30 years can now see their local GP for the heart check, which Heart Foundation ACT chief Tony Stubbs believes could prevent up to 76,500 heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease over the next five years.
Mr Stubbs is imploring Canberrans to make use of the service this Heart Week (28 April to 4 May).
“Heart disease is the single biggest killer in the ACT. In 2017, one in every 10 deaths in the ACT was as a result of heart disease,” he said.
“Yet we know that many heart attacks and strokes can be prevented by addressing key risk factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol and other lifestyle choices.
“Heart disease is not always obvious – having a heart attack could be your first sign. Don’t wait for chest pain, it could be too late. Get the vital tests you need by visiting your doctor for a heart health check.”
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey 2017/18 was released by the Heart Foundation earlier this week, with some troubling statistics surrounding the health of Canberrans.
“We know that 64 per cent are obese. Around one in five adults in the ACT have high blood pressure and although we are physically active, we are not active enough across the country,” Mr Stubbs said.
“Only three per cent of ACT residents eat enough fruit and vegetables. With all these risk factor profiles, there is probably a large number of people in the ACT community that actually have heart disease and don’t know it.
“There may be a lot of people with ticking time bombs walking around Canberra who are unaware they are a high risk of having an attack in the next five years.”
As part of the check, doctors will look at the risk factors that increase your likelihood of heart attack and stroke by reviewing your blood pressure, cholesterol, diet and lifestyle, and other factors such as family history.
Depending on the level of risk, doctors may prescribe medication and recommend lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, being more active and improving your diet.
Visit the Heart Foundation website or call their helpline on 13 11 12 to hear more.