Last week was Heart Week (28 April to 4 May 2019), and residents in the Coffs Harbour-Grafton region are encouraged to visit their doctor for a Medicare-funded Heart Health Check to reveal their risk of two of the nation’s biggest killers – heart attack and stroke.
The Coffs Harbour-Grafton region ranks 13th out of 28 regions in NSW for deaths from heart disease, according to data available at the Heart Foundation’s Australian Heart Maps. The death rate in this region is about 71 out of every 100,000 people, which is higher than the NSW state average (around 67 out of every 100,000 people).
In terms of heart disease risk factors:
• 19.5 per cent of residents in the Coffs Harbour-Grafton region smoke;
• 18 per cent have high blood pressure;
• 70.5 per cent are not physically active enough for good health;
• Approximately 36 per cent are obese; and
• 32 per cent have high cholesterol.
After years of campaigning, the Heart Foundation spearheaded the introduction of a Heart Health Check covered by Medicare, which became available on 1 April 2019.
“Australians aged 45 years and over, and Indigenous Australians from 30 years, can now see their GP for a Medicare-funded Heart Health Check to understand their risk of heart attack and stroke in the next five years,” said Heart Foundation CEO NSW, Kerry Doyle.
Nationally, it is estimated Australia’s new Heart Health Check could prevent 76,500 heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease over the next five years, avoiding 42 heart events daily.
“Heart disease is the single biggest killer in NSW, yet we know that many heart attacks and strokes can be prevented by managing key risk factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol and other lifestyle choices,” Ms Doyle said.
“Heart disease is not always obvious – having a heart attack could be your first sign. Don’t wait for chest pain, it could be too late. Get the vital tests you need by visiting your doctor for a Heart Health Check,” she said.
As part of a Heart Health Check, your doctor will look at the risk factors that increase your likelihood of heart attack and stroke by reviewing your blood pressure, cholesterol, diet and lifestyle, and other factors such as family history.
Depending on your level of risk, your doctor may prescribe medication and recommend lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, being more active and improving your diet.
Heart Week is an opportunity for the Australian public and healthcare professionals to start a conversation about heart health and the steps we can take to reduce our risk of heart disease.
Visit heartfoundation.org.au/heartweek or call the Heart Foundation Helpline on 13 11 12.