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.
AdvertisementProf 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."