What's your risk of having a heart attack?
Your GP can tell you, thanks to new Medicare-funded health check
Most Australian adults have at least two risk factors for a fatal heart attack or stroke but don’t know it.
That’s why the Heart Foundation wants women and men older than 45 (or 35 for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons) to see a GP for a Heart Health Check.
During the Heart Health Check, your doctor will estimate how likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke in the next five years and will give you tips on staying healthy.
This check is just as important for women as for men, as almost half the people who die of heart disease every year are women.
The first part of the Heart Health Check will involve your doctor asking about your family’s health history, what you eat, how much exercise you do and whether you smoke.
Your GP is likely to check your blood pressure, weigh you and measure your waist. They will also arrange blood tests to check your cholesterol and glucose levels.
All this information is entered into a calculator which will show whether you are at low, medium or high risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years.
Depending on your result, your doctor may encourage you to keep doing what you are doing. If not, they might suggest lifestyle changes such as improving your diet, doing more exercise or adjusting your alcohol consumption.
If you are a smoker, your GP may offer to help you quit.
If your doctor suspects a heart condition, they may arrange several tests, including:
- An electrocardiogram to show how well your heart is beating;
- Blood tests;
- An ultrasound;
- Stress tests to show how hard your heart works during exercise; and
- A coronary angiogram.
If necessary, you may receive a prescription for medicines to lower your blood pressure and/or cholesterol.
We recommend you continue to have regular Heart Health Checks in the future. Discuss with your doctor how often this needs to be done.
Professor Garry Jennings, a cardiologist and Chief Medical Advisor for the Heart Foundation, says the introduction of Heart Health Checks in April 2019 could prevent almost 80,000 heart attacks and strokes and save more than 9,000 lives over the next five years.
Call us to book a Heart Health Check 02 9908 2233.