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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia. The risk of heart attacks rises with age and men of 45 years of age and older and women of 55 years of age and older are often at an appreciable risk.

The National Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance recommended in 2012 that priority be given to the identifying people at increased risk of heart disease so that they can be given advice and treatment to reduce the risk of initial or recurrent heart attacks. The Consensus Statement recommends that people aged 45 years and over be targeted although it recognises that some people may be at high risk below the age of 45. Such people include those with multiple risk factors and people of aboriginal or Torres Strait islander ethnicity. The risk factors are shown in the table below.

Established disease Biological risk factors Lifestyle risk factors
Existing heart disease High blood pressure Smoking
Diabetes High cholesterol Physical inactivity
Kidney failure Protein in urine Overweight / obese
  Atrial fibrillation Poor nutrition
  Age >50 Poor living circumstances
  Male gender Excessive alcohol consumption