Life Begins At » One Million Australians at Risk of Heart Attack
Health Mens Health Womens Health

One Million Australians at Risk of Heart Attack

National Heart Foundation statisticsMore than one million Australians over the age of 45 have both high blood pressure and high cholesterol – two major risk factors for heart attack and stroke, the National Heart Foundation of Australia has released today.

The Heart Foundation’s analysis of each state and territory, using data from the ABS Australian Health Survey, showed Tasmania and Victoria top the list of the nation’s worst rates for both high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

  • Tasmania had 1 in 6 (17%), or nearly 38,000 people, with both high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Around 1 in 7 (15%), or almost 320,000 Victorians, had both risk factors
  • Followed by NT (15%), SA (14%), WA (14%) and ACT (13%)
  • While NSW (10%) and Qld (10%) had slightly better rates they still have more than half the population with either high blood pressure, high cholesterol or both.

Dr Robert Grenfell, National Director of Cardiovascular Health at the Heart Foundation said that meant a million men and women are at imminent risk of heart attack and stroke.

“Every year around 55,000 people have a heart attack and risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol significantly increase your chance of having one,” said Dr Grenfell. “The more risk factors you have, the higher your chance of having a heart attack or stroke and this new data shows at least a million of us are essentially ticking time bombs.

“Other risk factors like smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, poor diet, diabetes and kidney disease all contribute to a higher risk.”

Dr Grenfell added the large number of people who have both risk factors is disturbing considering that they are preventable and manageable.

“High blood pressure and cholesterol are often called the silent killers as there are no obvious symptoms – having a heart attack can be the first sign,” he said. “Most alarmingly 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with high cholesterol and 7 out of 10 with high blood pressure didn’t know they had it.

“The only way to find out if you’re at risk is to get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked by a health professional. “We’re urging all people over the age of 45, or 35 if you’re an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, to ask their GP for a Heart Health Check to find out your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and what you can do to help prevent it.”

The Australian Health Survey biomedical survey was conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and funded by the Department of Health and Ageing and the Heart Foundation. Voluntary blood and urine samples were tested from 11,000 survey respondents across the country.