Heart on your sleeve: When to check your heart

Stay healthy: Heart checks are an important measure to identify risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Stay healthy: Heart checks are an important measure to identify risk factors for coronary heart disease.

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Screening for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as part of a general check-up is recommended in all adults. 

In otherwise healthy individuals, regular heart checks are recommended in men above the age of 45 and women above the age of 55. In high risk individuals a heart check may be recommended as early as age 35. 

Dr Daniel Robaei, a Staff Specialist Interventional Cardiologist and Lecturer at the University of New South Wales says that; “In some circumstances heart checks may be recommended at a younger age in individuals at higher risk such as diabetics, those with a history of high blood pressure or high cholesterol, past and present smokers, and individuals with a family history of heart disease.”

Heart checks are an important measure to identify risk factors for coronary heart disease which can then be addressed to reduce the likelihood of heart disease developing in the future.

Doctor Daniel Robaei

Doctor Daniel Robaei

“Treatment of previously undiagnosed high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes may reduce the chance of coronary heart disease developing in the future, or may reduce its severity,” he said. “Stress testing and Cardiac CT as part of a heart check may also allow detection of already established coronary narrowings, the treatment of which may prevent a future heart attack.”

Keep an eye on your health.

Keep an eye on your health.

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Dr Robaei said while regular heart checks aim to reduce the risk of a future heart attack, and reduce the severity of future coronary heart disease, they do not completely eliminate the possibility of a heart attack occurring. A healthy heart diet and regular cardiovascular exercise remain important. 

How often do you need to have a heart check? The answer depends on the patient. 

“This varies from one individual to another,” he said. “Individuals judged to be at high risk of a future heart attack may benefit from yearly heart checks. In low risk individuals a heart check may only be advised every 3 to 5 years. How often you should have a heart check can be discussed following your initial assessment. If in doubt, the need for a heart check can be clarified through discussion with your GP.”