When it comes to calculating the risk of contracting cardiovascular disease (CVD) the conventional approach has been to look at potential risk factors, including high cholesterol, stress or high blood pressure.
These were often studied in isolation rather than considered as part of a whole. If cholesterol was the problem, you’d work with your doctor to develop a plan to lower it and, theoretically, reduce your chances of CVD.
Absolute cardiovascular disease risk is a different approach, taking into account your overall risk of developing CVD in a five-year period. It’s a wholistic approach better known as a Heart Health Check.
This preventative approach identifies those who face the biggest risks early on, so they can take measures to stop CVD before it develops.
This is critical seeing as in the majority of cases, CVD is largely preventable.
According to the Heart Foundation, modifiable CVD risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and being overweight account for 90% of the risk of heart attack.
So if you quit smoking, reduce the salt and sugar in your diet and take up exercise, you have a profoundly positive impact on your heart health.
What’s your absolute risk?
Want to see how you rate? This easy-to-use calculator will let you know.
Heart health check
This is where your GP comes in. They’ll take the time to discuss all aspects of your life, from your diet to your exercise habits, family health history and your personal medical history.
After checking your blood pressure and cholesterol, and weighing them up with the above lifestyle factors they discussed with you earlier, they’ll have a very clear idea of your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years.
This isn’t as scary as it sounds. Remember that 90% of these risk factors are preventable.
Your doctor is there to support you as you make positive changes to your lifestyle, which may include balancing your diet, coming up with a plan to reduce the stress factors in your life and increase your physical activity levels as a way to improve your overall wellbeing.
NOTE: The main resource for this page is https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/for-professionals/clinical-information/absolute-risk
Absolute risk calculator – http://www.cvdcheck.org.au/
Heart health check pamphlet – https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/main/190311_Heart_Week_-_DL_Heart_Health.pdf
Questions to ask when having a heart health check – https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/main/For_professionals/Qs_to_ask_in_Heart_Health_Check.pdf