Nearly 1.4 million Australians at risk of heart attacks and strokes are failing to take steps to avoid the diseases.
"Twenty percent of the population aged 45 to 74, or 1.4 million Australians, had a high risk of heart attack or stroke in the next five years," Professor Banks, Australian National University researcher said.
‘More than 100,000 Australians had a heart attack or stroke every year.
In most cases these need lifestyle changes and can be avoided if people at risk are detected early enough and well managed.’
A new study in the Medical Journal of Australia says the vast majority of those considered highly vulnerable to cardiovascular disease are missing out on vital risk assessments and medications to address high blood pressure and cholesterol, despite heart disease being a leading cause of death in Australia.
The analysis found that those who smoked and had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and lower kidney function were among the most vulnerable.
"Tens of thousands of Australian lives could be saved if people aged 45 and older had a risk assessment, and if those at high risk took a mixture of blood pressure-lowering and cholesterol-lowering medications," she said.
Dr Clara Chow from the George Institute for Global Health said a paradigm change was needed to ensure patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease were prescribed medications.
The Heart Foundation's Professor Gary Jennings said more than 100,000 Australians had a heart attack or stroke every year.
"Most of these are avoidable if people at risk are detected early enough and well managed," he said.