Cardiovascular disease in its various manifestations (coronary disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, etc) has a long pre-symptomatic period, possibly 30-50 years in duration.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the single leading cause of death in Australia. It is largely preventable, with modifiable risk factors accounting for up to 90 per cent of the risk of myocardial infarction. Approximately 1.4 million Australians are at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years, and over half have not had an event previously.
Absolute CVD risk assessment estimates the cumulative risk of multiple, and sometimes synergistic risk factors, to predict a heart attack or stroke event in the next 5 years. A ‘Heart Health Check’ is the patient-friendly term for comprehensive CVD risk assessment and ongoing management, and is now supported by Medicare for 45 years and over without a known cardiac risk.
Medical Risk Factors
High Blood Pressure or hypertension is a common condition of the circulatory system and is widely recognised as the leading risk factor for CVD
One third of adults have high blood pressure
Serum cholesterol (and hence LDL cholesterol) has consistently been shown to be a significant risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
Two in five adults are living with high cholesterol
Lifestyle Risk Factors
Modifiable risk factors (e.g. cigarette smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet) contribute significantly to the risk of CVD.
Being Overweight or Obese - if your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or over.
Two in three adults are overweight or obese
The smoking statistics below are in regards to ‘current smokers’, which is defined as a person that smokes daily, weekly, or less than weekly.
Almost 3 million people over 15 years are current smokers
Smoking rates are down overall but increasing in males 25-34 years
Physical Inactivity refers to a combination of inactivity, based on reported exercise and workplace activity.
Four in five adults do not meet national guidelines for physical activity including exercise
One in seven do no form of physical activity and this is rising
More than 3 million adults exceed alcohol consumption guidelines
Men are twice as likely to exceed the guidelines
Adults not meeting the recommended intake for vegetables has increased over the past two decades to 92 per cent.
Improving vegetable intake to meet the recommended 5 serves per day is estimated to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 16%
Important points to note:
1. Risk factor knowledge can predict 50-80% of first coronary events
2. Not all subjects with risk factors will develop premature vascular disease.
3. Some subjects with vascular disease will not manifest known symptoms