Risky business: Too few Aussies link high blood pressure, cholesterol with heart disease

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The Heart Foundation is imploring Australians to pay more attention to heart disease red flags ahead of World Heart Day, with fewer than one in ten people with high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol recognising these are risks for heart attack.

Six million Australians have high blood pressure, yet Heart Foundation research shows only 8% of those living with it know it is a risk factor for heart disease – our nation’s number one killer.

Australians with high blood cholesterol are also likely to be complacent about its impact on their heart health, the research suggests. Just one in nine (11%) people with high blood cholesterol linked it with an increased risk of heart disease.

World Heart Day is marked on Sunday, 29 September 2019, and this year’s global awareness campaign My Heart, Your Heart urges people to promise to make changes for better heart health.

Heart disease remains Australia’s single leading cause of death, claiming 48 lives a day.

Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly, said lack of awareness about key risk factors was concerning and called on Australians to take steps towards protecting their tickers.

“Having high blood pressure that is not managed can cause damage to the arteries and blood vessels over time and lead to a heart attack or stroke,” Professor Kelly said.

“Close to one in two heart disease deaths are attributable to high blood pressure – so it’s critical we do not underestimate its potential impact on heart health. This is also the case for high cholesterol, which is a factor for nearly one in two heart disease deaths.

“These are risk factors that can be managed if people modify their lifestyles and take appropriate medications.

“Complacency can be a killer when it comes to your heart. As World Heart Day approaches, now is the time to promise to make changes before it’s too late.”

More than 17,000 people die from heart disease each year in Australia, while the economic cost is an estimated $6.76 billion annually.

Professor Kelly encouraged Australians to go to the Heart Foundation website to complete the Heart Age Calculator, which compares your ‘heart age’ to your actual age to help people understand their risk of heart attack or stroke.

If you're over 45, or over 30 if you're Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, the best chance of reducing your risk of heart disease starts with seeing your doctor for a Heart Health Check.

“During a Heart Health Check your doctor will arrange blood tests to check your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, check your blood pressure, ask about your lifestyle and take a full medical and family history. Your GP will calculate whether you are at low, medium or high risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years and support you to make the right changes to improve your heart health,” he said.

To learn more about heart disease risk factors, visit the Heart Foundation website or call 13 11 12.

Media enquiries

Brigid Simeoni, Media Advisor
M: 0427 619 589 E: brigid.simeoni@heartfoundation.org.au