Your heartHealthy livingFor professionalsResearchHow you can helpAbout us
a smiling woman sitting at desk typing on laptop by a window with light streaming in

Receptionist's guide to the Heart Health Check

Heart Health Check Toolkit


Receptionist's guide to the Heart Health Check

Sample scripts and answers to FAQs

Medical receptionists play a vital support role in integrating Heart Health Checks into routine care. This section of the toolkit explains how to recall a patient for a Heart Health Check and answers some FAQs.

Recalling patients for a Heart Health Check

Phone calls can be an effective way to recall patients who are eligible for an annual Heart Health Check. Once eligible patients have been identified, call them and explain…

  1. Doctor <insert name> has asked me to call you as you are now <eligible / due / overdue> for a Heart Health Check.
  2. It’s a check-up that will be at least 20 minutes long to assess your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
  3. The check <is covered under Medicare / costs $________>.

Book the appointment as per usual business practice.

If the patient wants to know more about the Heart Health Check, you can explain …

During a Heart Health Check, your doctor or nurse will:

  • discuss your lifestyle and do some simple checks like measuring your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels
  • calculate your level of risk and then plan with you how to lower your risk
  • refer you for a blood test if needed.

You might also refer the patient to the Heart Health Check information on the Heart Foundation website.

TIP: For any questions about risk factors, refer the patient to the practice nurse or GP.

Heart Health Check FAQs

A Heart Health Check is a 20-minute assessment of a patient’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years.

Many people may not be aware of their risk factors for heart attack or stroke. Some risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol can be silent.

A Heart Health Check helps patients to understand their risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 5 years. They will be guided by their GP or nurse to take the first steps to lowering their risk.

During a Heart Health Check, a GP or nurse will:

  • review and update medical and family history
  • check blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels
  • discuss lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise
  • calculate a risk score
  • develop a management plan to lower risk, which may include medication and referrals.

Risk factors of heart disease can be classified as modifiable and non-modifiable. GPs will generally focus on modifiable risk factors when providing patients with advice on how to lower their risk.

Non-modifiable risk factors are those that cannot be changed, such as:

  • age
  • gender
  • ethnicity
  • family history of heart disease.

Modifiable risk factors are those that can be changed:

  • poor diet
  • lack of physical activity
  • smoking
  • alcohol consumption
  • unhealthy weight
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol.

A patient is eligible if they meet all these criteria:

  • adults 45 years or over, or 30 or over for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoplesa
  • adults aged 35 and over who are living with diabetes
  • no known cardiovascular disease (CVD)
  • have not had a health assessment in the last 12 months.

Patients not eligible for a Heart Health Check should still be encouraged to discuss their heart health with their GP.

The assessment will take at least 20 minutes.

Like other health assessments, the Heart Health Check is covered under Medicare and there will be no out-of-pocket expenses at practices which bulk bill this service.

Patients may need a blood test before their Heart Health Check. If a pathology request form is provided, the test will need to occur at the pathology provider at least five days prior to the check.  

Information on Heart Health Checks as well as resources on how to maintain heart health can be found on the Heart Foundation website.

Read next ...

Patient invitation templates

Table of contents

  1. National Heart Foundation of Australia. Are you at risk of heart disease? Accessed 9 Jan 2024.
  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Heart, stroke and vascular diseases: Australian facts. 2023.

  2. Banks E, Joshy G, Korda RJ, et al. Tobacco smoking and risk of 36 cardiovascular disease subtypes: fatal and non-fatal outcomes in a large prospective Australian study. BMC Med. Jul 3 2019;17(1):128. doi:10.1186/s12916-019-1351-4

  3. Aune D, Schlesinger S, Norat T, Riboli E. Tobacco smoking and the risk of sudden cardiac death: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Eur J Epidemiol. Jun 2018;33(6):509-521. doi:10.1007/s10654-017-0351-y

  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death, Australia. 2023.

  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Waist circumference and BMI. 2023.

  6. Alcohol. Think Again. Alcohol and your health.

  7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. High blood pressure. 2019.

  8. Niles AN, O'Donovan A. Comparing anxiety and depression to obesity and smoking as predictors of major medical illnesses and somatic symptoms. Health Psychol. Feb 2019;38(2):172-181. doi:10.1037/hea0000707

  9. Commonwealth of Australia: Department of Health and Aged Care. Australian Guideline for assessing and managing cardiovascular disease risk.

  10. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 1.05 Cardiovascular disease. AIHW. Accessed 4 Jan 2024,

  11. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Indicators of socioeconomic inequalities in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Vol. Cat. no. CDK 12. 2019.

Group of three researchers or health professionals having a discussion
Toolkit contents

Explore the list of pages in the Heart Health Check Toolkit for health professionals.

Smiling general practitioner is speaking with another man across his desk
About the Toolkit

Supporting general practices to integrate Heart Health Checks into routine patient care, with a range of resources and easy-to-use tools in one place.

Female health professional smiling, wearing blue scrubs
Downloadable resources

A full list of ready-to-use resources available in this Toolkit

Last updated04 January 2024