Cardiovascular Disease: Are You At Risk?


The good news is that Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), including such conditions as coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, and blood clotting problems are largely preventable. There is no single cause for cardiovascular disease, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing it, risk factors that you can simply change and expel from your current lifestyle.

What is cardiovascular disease?

CVD happens when the blood vessels transport oxygen to different parts of your body naturally gradually narrow. Blood vessels become narrow when fatty materials builds up on their walls. This can reduce oxygen-rich blood flow. If a blood clot forms in your narrowed blood vessels and completely blocks of the oxygen-rich blood supply to your to important parts of your body such as your heart and brain, a heart attack or stroke will happen.

Why is it important for you to know your heart's risk?

Knowing your risk of a heart attack or heart disease is the first step you can take to help prevent cardiovascular disease.  There are known risk factors that contribute to your chance of having a heart attack. A combination of risk factors shows your overall likelihood of having a heart attack in the next five years. This is known as your 'absolute cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk'. Although a few of these risk factors are out of everyone's control, including ethnic background, family history, and age, most of the risk factors can be changed and maintained through healthy and smart lifestyle choices.

It is often to know whether or not you are at risk of CVD, because often you cannot feel any symptoms. If you are 45 years and over, or have a family history in CVD, seeing your doctor is the first step.

What will the doctor do?

The doctor will test and record your risk factors, including:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Whether or not you smoke
  • Weight - BMI
  • How often you exercise

The doctor will also look for other determining factors that can increase your risk of CVD, testing whether or not you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Family history of CVD or high cholesterol

By looking at your risk factors and turning them into a percentage score, your doctor would have calculated your heart and stroke risk. If you have results from your doctor, you can calculate your risk of CVD online 

If your risk score was calculated more than 15%, you have a high risk of getting CVD in the next five years. If all of the people with a risk score of more than 15% were grouped, 1 in 7 people are at risk of getting CVD in the next five years.

If your risk score is lower than 10%, you have a low risk of getting CVD in the next five years.

What do you do now?

If you are at high risk, ask your doctor for advice and follow it.

If you are at moderate risk, ask your doctor to measure your risk twice a year and follow the tips and advice for reducing your percentage score.

If you are at low risk, make any changes you can to maintain your healthy lifestyle, ensuring your risk is kept low and ask your doctor to measure your risk every two years.

Reducing your risk factors

  1. Stop smoking and avoid any-second hand smoke
  2. Be active every day. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, on most, if not all, days.
  3. Avoid adding salt to food. Choose "low salt" and "no salt additive" when purchasing food from the supermarket.
  4. Eat a varied diet. The health of your heart has a lot to do with diet. For good health, the Australian Heart Foundation recommends a healthy eating plan, which you can find here.
  5. Take your medicines prescribed by your doctor, even when you are feel well
  6. Visit your doctor regularly.
  7. Take an Australia Wide First Aid Apply First Aid course so you know how to recognise the signs and symptoms of heart conditions related to Cardiovascular Disease. If your heart starts to fail, every second counts.



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