Do you know the signs of a heart attack?
Do you know the signs of a heart attack?

More than a million Aussies at heart attack risk

MORE than 1 million middle-aged Australians have two key risk factors for a heart attack, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, a National Heart Foundation survey has found.

The foundation's analysis of data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics health survey showed Queensland and New South Wales had the lowest rates for both problems.

But even in those states, where 10% had both high blood pressure and high cholesterol, more than half the population still had one or the other.

The data showed Tasmania and Victoria topped the list for the nation's worst rates for both health problems, with one-in-six Tasmanians and one-in-seven Victorians having both problems.

Foundation national director of cardiovascular health, Dr Robert Grenfell, said the figures showed more than a million men and women nation-wide were "at imminent risk of heart attack and stroke".

He said each year in Australia, 55,000 people had a heart attack and both risk factors "significantly increase your chance of having one".

"The more risk factors you have, the higher your chance of having a heart attack or stroke and this new data shows at least a million of us are essentially ticking time bombs," he said.

"Other risk factors like smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, poor diet, diabetes and kidney disease all contribute to a higher risk."

Dr Grenfell said the two key risk factors were often called "silent killers" with no obvious symptoms, encouraging people to get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked.

"We're urging all people over the age of 45, or 35 if you're an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, to ask their GP for a Heart Health Check to find out your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and what you can do to help prevent it," he said.

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