In 2017–18, 1.2 million Australians (4.8%) had CVD.12 Conditions affecting the circulatory system were attributable for 27% (43,447) of all deaths in Australia in 2017.12,13
However, CVD is largely preventable and Australian and overseas guidelines recommend a comprehensive risk assessment to enable effective management of identified modifiable risk factors.14
Absolute CVD risk is the numerical probability of a cardiovascular event occurring within a 5-year period. It is categorised as low (< 10% risk), moderate (10%–15%) and high (> 15%).14
An absolute CVD risk assessment is recommended for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged 30–74 years and other Australians aged 45–74 years.14,15
The RACGP recommends adding 5% to the calculated 5-year risk score (when using the Framingham Risk Equation) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in communities where local risk factor prevalence rates and CVD incidence rates are high (such as remote areas).15
Assessment of CVD risk is more accurate when based on multiple risk factors rather than an individual risk factor, because the cumulative effects of multiple factors may be additive or synergistic.14
Lifestyle support, such as weight management, smoking cessation and increased physical activity, is recommend for people at all risk levels. Blood pressure-lowering and/or lipid-modifying medicines may also be required, depending on a person’s blood pressure and risk level.14
Completing an assessment
The National Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance
has developed the Australian absolute cardiovascular disease risk calculator and Guidelines for the management of absolute cardiovascular disease risk.
Health professionals can also find information in the joint RACGP/National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
MBS items 699 and 177 explanatory notes advise that these resources can be used to complete a heart health assessment.2,3
Information on evidence-based preventive activities in Australian primary care can also be found in the RACGP Red Book.