Every 12 minutes an Australian dies from heart, stroke or blood vessel disease. Most heart attacks and strokes are preventable.
If you are 45 years or older (35 years or older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) and have not had a heart attack or stroke, then you are eligible for a Heart Health Check under Medicare.
A Heart Health Check is a regular check-up performed by your doctor. A Heart Health Check helps you to understand your risk factors for heart disease and estimate how likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke in the next five years.
The most important part of this check-up is working with your doctor to manage your risk factors to improve your heart health:
Your doctor will start your check by talking with you about your heart disease risk factors.
This usually involves having your blood pressure and cholesterol level checked and talking about what you eat, how often you are physically active, whether you smoke, as well as other risk factors for heart disease like your personal and family health history.
Once your doctor knows your risk factors, they will enter this information into a web-based calculator to understand your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years .
Your calculator result will show whether you are at low, medium or high risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Depending on your result, your doctor may encourage you to keep doing what you are doing, or give you advice, information and support to make heart-healthy changes to your lifestyle, including changing your diet, doing more physical activity, quitting smoking or reducing the amount of alcohol you drink.
If your risk level is high, your doctor may prescribe medication to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, or both.