Almost half of at-risk Aussies skip cholesterol checks

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Almost half of otherwise healthy Australians aged 45 and over have not had their cholesterol checked in the past five years, putting their heart health on the line, new research reveals.

The Heart Foundation is pushing for more people to see their GP for a Heart Health Check, as the figures also show one third (33%) of adults in this at-risk age group have gone two years without having their blood pressure recorded by their GP. People should have a Heart Health Check if they are 45 and older (or from 30 for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders).

The Heart Foundation will unveil the results on Friday at the annual GP 19 conference, which brings together GPs from across the country to learn about the latest clinical research.

Heart Foundation Risk Reduction Manager, Natalie Raffoul, says high cholesterol and high blood pressure are key risk factors for heart disease, which remains our single biggest killer and claims 48 lives each day.

“We looked at how often CVD risk factors are being assessed in more than 350,000 Australian patients aged 45 and over without heart disease and found too many are missing out on the vital checks needed to protect their heart health,” Ms Raffoul said.

“Getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked is an essential part of managing your risk of heart disease, yet close to half (46%) of Australians 45 and over have not had their cholesterol checked in the last five years, and a third haven’t had their blood pressure checked by their GP in the last two years.

“Heart disease is Australia’s leading single cause of death, so if you are 45 and over, or 30 and over if you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, the best chance of reducing your risk starts with seeing your GP for a Heart Health Check.”

During a Heart Health Check, your GP will aim to identify risk factors through blood tests to look at your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, checking your blood pressure and talking to you about your lifestyle, and medical and family history.

Your doctor will calculate your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years and support you in making a plan to improve your heart health, which may include changes to your diet, exercising, and possibly taking medications.

More detailed findings on the CVD risk assessment data, based on de-identified GP patient health records, will be released next year.

The GP 19 conference, run by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, is being held in Adelaide from 24-26 October 2019.

Visit the Heart Foundation website to learn more about Heart Health Checks, or to complete the Heart Age Calculator, which tells you your “heart age” compared to your actual age.

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