I am
Tens of thousands of Aussies missing tests for silent killers
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Tens of thousands of Aussies missing tests for silent killers

Media Release - 16 November 2020

More than a third of Australians aged 45 and over have not had up-to-date tests for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, two leading risk factors for coronary heart disease, which kills on average 50 Australians every day.

Data unveiled by the Heart Foundation today reveal that more than 61,000 eligible Australians (36%) in the at-risk age group of 45-74 failed to have both their blood pressure and cholesterol recorded within the recommended timeframes.

While 15 per cent of eligible Australians (25,315 people) missed having their blood pressure checked in the last two years, nearly double that number, 29 per cent (50,501 people), went more than five years without having their cholesterol recorded by their GP.

Heart Foundation Risk Reduction Manager Natalie Raffoul, who is presenting the data at the virtual GP20 conference, said the results were a wakeup call and revealed too many Australians are missing out on the checks needed to protect their heart health.

“High blood pressure and cholesterol are often silent or symptom free, yet they are two of the biggest risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Too many times, we hear of people who think they’re fine but don’t realise they’re a ticking time bomb.

“It’s not uncommon that a heart attack or stroke is the first sign that something is wrong. It’s devastating because these conditions are largely preventable and can be treated if they’re picked up and managed.”

The Heart Foundation recommends all Australians aged 45 and over, and 30 and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, see their GP for a Heart Health Check covered by Medicare.

“A Heart Health Check can save your life – it takes 20 minutes including a blood test, and it’s your best opportunity to take control of your heart health and reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.”

The data also found that nearly one in four eligible Australians, more than 26,000 people, are at high risk of a heart attack or stroke due to a combination of risk factors and or their age.

“This is important, because we know that the more risk factors you have, the greater your risk of heart attack and stroke.

“Some people are automatically at high risk of developing heart disease because of their co-existing conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease. These people in particular should have regular heart health check ups with their GP.”

A Heart Health Check is performed by your doctor to assess how likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke in the next five years. As part of a Heart Health Check, your doctor will take blood tests for blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels, measure your blood pressure, BMI (body mass index) and  waist size, and talk to you about your family’s medical history and your lifestyle.

The results, drawn from an analysis of national general practice MedicineInsight data, looked at 172,366 deidentified patient records to assess the number of Australians whose necessary risk factors were recorded.

The Heart Foundation is unveiling the results today at the virtual GP20 conference, the annual conference for GPs run by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Information on how air pollution, heatwaves and bushfires can impact heart health, and what you can do to look after yourself. ...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Could you be at risk of heart disease? Get your estimated heart age now....

Absolute CVD risk charts

Absolute CVD risk charts

Absolute CVD risk charts provide a visual tool to calculate CVD risk for use in practice in Australia....

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Thai chicken lettuce cups

Thai chicken lettuce cups

Thai chicken lettuce cups

10 minutes
Serves 4

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Your role as a carer for a heart attack patient is an important one – explore some useful things to know....

For professionals: Online education and training

For professionals: Online education and training

Online courses for health professionals focused on improving cardiovascular care. ...

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

We value the support of all of our corporate partners....

WEBINAR | Pressure rising: Clinical controversies and updates in hypertension

WEBINAR | Pressure rising: Clinical controversies and updates in hypertension

WEBINAR | Pressure rising: Clinical controversies and updates in hypertension

For Professionals: Coronary artery calcium scoring

For Professionals: Coronary artery calcium scoring

The National Heart Foundation of Australia Position Statement: Coronary artery calcium scoring for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in Australia.¹...

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

Are you within a healthy weight range for your height?...

For professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples identification training

For professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples identification training

Asking the Question of Origin course helps with identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, in line with standard practice.  ...

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management resources for health professionals...

Your heart medicines

Your heart medicines

Your heart medicines

Information about commonly prescribed heart medicines. ...

Get started with more physical activity

Get started with more physical activity

Get started with more physical activity

Finding time for physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your heart...

Vegetarian lasagne

Vegetarian lasagne

Vegetarian lasagne

1 hour
Serves 6

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

Heart Health Checks have been supported by Medicare since April 2019....

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Keeping your blood cholesterol at a healthy level can help you reduce your risk of heart disease and other serious conditions. ...

Pregnancy and heart disease

Pregnancy and heart disease

Information and resources for health professionals....

Q&A with Dr James Nadel

Q&A with Dr James Nadel

Q&A with Dr James Nadel

The role of inflammation in the development, identification and treatment of unstable blood vessel plaque...

Nutrition Position Statements

Nutrition Position Statements

Nutrition Position Statements

The Heart Foundation’s food and nutrition position statements have been developed to keep you informed about our position on a range of nutrition issues relating to heart health. ...

Lamb souvlaki wraps

Lamb souvlaki wraps

Lamb souvlaki wraps

5 minutes
Serves 4

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart Health Projects

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart Health Projects

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Heart Health Projects

Projects aimed at improving the heart health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ...

Types of physical activity

Types of physical activity

Types of physical activity

Nine out of 10 Australians could reduce the risk of heart disease by walking as little as 15 minutes more each day....

Asian recipes

Asian recipes

Asian recipes

Find heart healthy Asian recipes....

Meatloaf

Meatloaf

40-50 minutes
Serves 6

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Get the right balance of healthy fats in your diet ...

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Discover key information on heart-healthy eating and drinking....

What is angina?

What is angina?

What is angina?

Angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that’s a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease (CHD)....