Australians should undergo
regular risk assessments for cardiovascular disease, according to an editorial
published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Professor Andrew Tonkin, Head of
the Cardiovascular Research Unit at Monash University, and his co-authors note
that new evidence-based guidelines for assessing absolute cardiovascular risk
were released in March.
Prof Tonkin said the National
Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance guidelines should be rigorously
implemented, starting with identifying high-risk groups.
"These include people who have
prior cardiovascular disease events, peripheral arterial disease, those with
diabetes aged over 60 years, chronic kidney disease, and familial hypercholesterolaemia," he said.
These people should be treated
accordingly and do not require absolute risk assessment.
Absolute risk assessments should
commence when other Australians are aged 45 years or older, or from 35 years of
age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and repeated at intervals
reflecting the initial level of risk.
"People at higher risk should
receive appropriate lifestyle advice and medical management."
Prof Tonkin said a Medicare item
number which supports a single health check for people aged 45-49 years could
be expanded to include ongoing primary care risk assessments and so that people
at higher risk receive lifestyle and appropriate medical management.
"Under a new scheme in the United
Kingdom, everyone aged between 40 and 74 years, not already diagnosed with
heart disease, stroke or kidney disease will be invited once every five years
to have their risk assessed using an absolute risk tool, and given support and
advice to help them reduce or manage their risk," he said.
"Analyses have shown this would be very cost-effective
compared with other accepted health interventions."