Heart week 2022: two-thirds of at-risk Aussies ignoring vital heart check-ups

Heart Foundation calls on Aussies aged 45-74 to resume annual Heart Health Checks


Around two thirds of Australians who need annual heart check-ups have not done so in the past two years despite some carrying significant risk factors for heart attack or stroke, a new survey has found.


The Heart Foundation is concerned that this could lead to an unwanted spike in heart-related deaths and hospitalisations.


A new survey of 1,000 Australians conducted by the Heart Foundation found that 64 percent of people aged between 45 and 74 – representing 5.5 million Australians - had not had a Heart Health Check through their GP in the past two years, despite more than half of that cohort having either high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or being told that they are at high risk of heart disease by a doctor.


The Heart Foundation’s interim CEO, Professor Garry Jennings, said the results showed a pressing need for Australians to get their hearts checked by a GP to prevent a spike in heart-related deaths and hospitalisations.


“There has never been a more important time for Australians to come together and focus on heart health,” Professor Jennings said. “Heart disease is still Australia’s leading cause of death – we already lose more than 18,000 lives to it each year.


“Knowing that people have deferred their heart health during the pandemic despite having significant risk factors is something we find very concerning.


“This, coupled with growing evidence from studies overseas that COVID-19 can further increase the risk of heart disease among those infected means heart disease could be silently and unknowingly progressing in a large number of people.


“This Heart Week, our message is clear: we need Australians aged 45-74 (or aged 30-74 if First Nations) to take immediate action and please book a Heart Health Check with your GP today. “


The Heart Foundation is also calling for a bipartisan commitment from the Coalition and Labor to extend Medicare subsidies for Heart Health Checks beyond the current June 2023 expiry date, to ensure they remain accessible for all at-risk Australians as they return to GPs for routine health checks.


“We are calling for permanent and ongoing subsidies for Heart Health Checks to ensure that they are more accessible to at-risk Australians, who need them now more than ever before,” Professor Jennings said.


“The warnings signs of a heart attack are tragically often the first indication that someone is at risk, and by then it is too late to prevent. Ongoing subsidy under Medicare will help Australians to take action before it is too late, and save their families the unnecessary heartache.”


A Heart Health Check is a 20-minute appointment where a GP and nurse will assess a person’s risk factors for developing heart disease and work with them to create a plan to lower this risk immediately. Blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels will be routinely assessed as part of the check.


To learn more about Heart Week and Heart Health Checks, visit www.heartfoundation.org.au or contact your GP to book your check.


2 May 2022.