Aussies will now be able to assess their risk of CVD at pop-up clinics around the country with the launch of a nationwide heart-health check screening program – Healthy Hearts. The free screening program is an effort to test the cardiovascular health status of Australians and capture those with CVD risk factors. Currently, there are more than 1.5 million Aussies living with high cholesterol (one of the main risk factors for CVD) who may be at heightened risk of a life-threatening cardiovascular event5 like heart attack or stroke.
- Aussies at risk of heart disease are not getting a vital check that could save their life: 90% of Australian adults have at least one risk factor for CVD1 however, the majority (64%) of those most eligible (those aged 45 to 74) have not had a recent heart health check .
- Despite significant research into evidence-based prevention of CVD, our nation is facing a CVD crisis: As our population ages, the number of the Aussies hospitalised due to CVD continues to rise, increasing by more than a third (38%) between 2000–01 and 2020–21.
- Providing convenient and quick heart health checks outside of doctor surgeries can assist to alleviate some barriers to screening of CVD risk factors: lack of availability, high cost, and long wait times are the main factors preventing patients from seeing their doctor when they should4. Offering ‘while you wait’ heart health checks, with the results provided instantly has the potential to overcome these barriers (when it comes to heart health checks) and better allow the system to identify and treat those at risk of CVD.
The Healthy Hearts Screening program is a partnership between Novartis (an innovative medicines company) and Wesfarmers Health (provider of health, beauty and wellbeing services) that will see trained pharmacists screen for cardiovascular risk factors including blood pressure and cholesterol in alternative locations to the General Practice (GP) surgery, such as shopping centres and outside community events.
As part of their 15-minute appointment, participants will complete a short lifestyle questionnaire, have their BMI (body mass index) measured, and a finger-prick blood test taken for a full cholesterol panel, with the results provided instantly.
The national rollout follows 14 successful Healthy Hearts pop-ups that have been held in rural locations across Victoria, during which 85% of the 983 participants screened were found to have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including having high cholesterol (37%), high blood pressure (37.6%), or being overweight or obese (84%).
In Australia, CVD affects four million Aussies. It’s responsible for more than half a million hospitalisations each year – a number which is increasing each year – and is the leading cause of death.
While it can happen at any age, Australians 45 years and over (or 30 and over for Australians of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent) are considered most at risk of developing heart disease, therefore it is recommended they get their heart health checked annually. The main modifiable risk factors for CVD include smoking, poor diet, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol. High cholesterol alone is responsible for more than a third of all the years of healthy life lost to heart disease in Australia.
Currently, 90% of Australian adults are living with at least one risk factor. However, the majority of Australians eligible for cardiovascular risk screening are not having a check in a timely manner, with results from a Heart Foundation survey last year showing 64% of those aged between 45 and 74 had not taken up a Heart Health Check within the last two years.
Checks as part of the Healthy Hearts screening program are conducted by trained pharmacists with the results delivered instantly to patients to either take away and discuss with their GP or results can be sent directly to their nominated GP. Alternatively, pharmacists can arrange a GP appointment for patients who may not have a regular GP, to discuss their results.
Aussies living in the following areas will be able to get their heart health checked in the upcoming months:
HEALTHY HEARTS POP-UP SCREENING LOCATIONS IN 2023*
• Shepparton Market Place, 27-29 July
• Broadmeadows Central, 25 August
• Elmore Field Days, Elmore Events Centre, Latrobe Health Stand, 3-5 October
• Wandin Silvan Field Days, Wandin East Recreation Reserve, Latrobe Health Stand, 13-15 October
• Bendigo Agricultural Show, Latrobe Health Stand, 27-29 October
• Central Square Ballarat Shopping Centre, 23-25 November
• Wendouree Shopping Centre, 6-8 December
• Moncrief, 22 August (venue to be confirmed)
New South Wales
• FIFA Fan Festival, Tumbalong Park
– 12 August, 3pm-8.30pm
– 15 August, 4pm-8pm
– 16 August, 5pm-8pm
– 19 August, 4pm-8pm
– 20 August, 6pm-10pm
*Locations are subject to change.