Your heart attack and stroke risk has increased

It’s never pleasant to think about but the reality is that heart disease is killing more Australians than ever, according

It’s never pleasant to think about but the reality is that heart disease is killing more Australians than ever, according to new research.

The study published in the Medical Journal of Australia has found that 20 per cent of Australians between the ages of 45 and 74 are at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke over the next five years.

But there’s hope: the ABC reports the study’s authors said those at high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) could benefit greatly from being prescribed a mixture of blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications.

Despite this, Australians are ignoring their risk of heart disease and are not taking the steps to ensure their longevity.

Professor Anthony Rodgers from the George Institute for Global Health said the findings were a “real wake-up call”.

“These drugs … we know a lot about them. In the large majority of cases they’re very safe and cause little to no side effects, but they’re not being used as widely as they should be,” he said.

“[Cardiovascular disease] is our biggest killer, but there a lot of moderate to high risk people walking around unprotected in Australia.”

“The leading [risk factors] are your age, your sex, what your blood pressure is, what your level of cholesterol is, whether you smoke and whether you’ve got diabetes.”

To find out your risk, visit your GP – they’ll ask about your lifestyle, check your blood pressure and order a blood test to check your cholesterol and to see whether you have diabetes.

“Once you’ve got your risk estimated, the doctor will tend to think about it in categories and in general, they will regard over 15 per cent over five years as a high risk,” Professor Rodgers said.

Heart Foundation guidelines state that if you are over 45 years of age you should have your absolute risk (or heart health) checked. If you’re at a high risk, you may be prescribed medication.

The fact is that many people over 60 are walking around with a high risk of heart disease but aren’t taking medication or improving their lifestyle.

“Most people [at risk of CVD] have blood pressure or cholesterol that’s too high,” Professor Rodgers said.

“Unless your blood pressure levels are low or your cholesterol levels are low, it’s likely that you’re going to benefit from getting those levels down with [statins or other medication]”

“Improving physical activity levels, reducing salt in your diet, reducing saturated fat in your diet etc … those are the ways to prevent heart disease in the long term”.

Tell us, are you concerned about your heart health?


  1. Martin Wild  

    Was it a year or two ago that the A.B.C.’s Catalyst program told us how evil and useless Statins are? Now they are telling us how important they are. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  2. Both high blood pressure, and stroke are related to the ‘fight or flight’ immune response instigated by the brain during an allergic reaction. The ‘fight-or-flight’ response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival during which a sudden flood of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dozens of other hormones causes changes in the body that include:
    heart rate and blood pressure increase
    pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible
    veins in skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups (responsible for the “chill” sometimes associated with fear — less blood in the skin to keep it warm)
    blood-glucose level increases
    muscles tense up, energized by adrenaline and glucose (responsible for goose bumps — when tiny muscles attached to each hair on surface of skin tense up, the hairs are forced upright, pulling skin with them)
    smooth muscle relaxes in order to allow more oxygen into the lungs
    nonessential systems (like digestion and immune system) shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions
    trouble focusing on small tasks (brain is directed to focus only on big picture in order to determine where threat is coming from)
    All of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for your life or fight for your life (thus the term “fight or flight”). Fear — and the fight-or-flight response in particular — is an instinct that every animal possesses, but in unhealthy individuals it can lead to stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure.

  3. Jennifer Dickson  

    After only 3 weeks of trying out the Fast Diet, where I eat normally on 5 days and have only 500 cals on 2 other days, I not only feel better but my normal meals have reduced in size. After blood tests my Dr has reduced my Cholesterol tab by half and my blood sugars are down, as is my waist measurement and my weight. So much better than being on a diet for day after day, as it is so much easier to do the 2 days.

  4. Scientist  

    It is now widely accepted that there are faults with previous associative research suggesting that cholesterol level and heart disease risk are linked. The links are now more likely to be inflammation and stress levels, along with many other factors. It is a complex phenomenon. Statins are not the holy grail of reduction of heart disease risk that was once though if you have not had an attack or stroke, as they have unwanted side effects that may outweigh the perceived risk.

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