Cholesterol and your heart and stroke risk

Cardiovascular disease includes heart attack, stroke and other blood vessel diseases. It is Australia’s biggest killer – killing more than either cancer or road accidents.

The number of Australians with cardiovascular disease is also growing. By 2050, it is predicted that 1 in 4 people be affected.

Ask your GP for your heart and stroke risk score

Signs of cardiovascular disease are not always obvious, making it a ‘silent killer’. This is why people aged 45 years or over (or over 35 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people), should know their risk of getting cardiovascular disease. It can help you and your doctor to identify the steps you need to take to reduce your risk and improve your health.

Your risk score will tell you your chance of getting cardiovascular disease in the next 5 years. It can be calculated by your doctor using the following information:

  • your age
  • your gender
  • the amount of cholesterol in your blood
  • your blood pressure level
  • your lifestyle, such as whether you smoke or not
  • other medical conditions you might have, such as diabetes.

Your risk score is shown as a percentage and places you at low, moderate or high risk. The lower your score, the less chance you have of getting cardiovascular disease.

A risk score of less that 5% means you are at low risk of getting cardiovascular disease in the next 5 years. A risk score between 10 and 15% means you are at moderate risk; and a score of above 15% means you are at high risk.


About 1 in 7 people at high risk will get cardiovascular disease in the next 5 years.

Remember: Whatever your risk score is now, it can change depending on what actions you take to lead a healthy life. Even small changes to your lifestyle can make a big difference!