Better heart health: 7 questions answered

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a significant problem in Australia, but did you know making even small changes can lead to better heart health? Here, we discuss some things you can do to show your heart more love and the signs that indicate you should seek medical advice.


1. What symptoms suggest I should see a doctor and who do I see?

Certain symptoms may indicate something isn’t quite right with your heart. You should see a doctor if you’re experiencing:

Your general practitioner (GP) is a great place to start. They may refer you to a cardiologist (heart specialist) for an assessment and opinion. In a medical emergency, dial 000 (triple zero).


2. What lifestyle factors impact heart health?

The way you live can significantly impact your heart health. Lifestyle factors that can place you at higher risk of developing heart disease [1] include:


3. What are the other risk factors for heart disease?

Along with lifestyle choices, various conditions can place you at higher risk of heart disease1. Some of these are known as ‘modifiable risk factors’, which means you can do things to manage them. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some mental health conditions. Your living and working conditions can also impact your heart health.

Other heart heath risk factors include1:

While these risk factors can’t be controlled, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. Getting your heart health checked is the first step.


4. What is a Heart Health Check?

A Heart Health Check[4] is an assessment of your cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk conducted by a GP and funded under Medicare for eligible people. The 20-minute check involves gathering information about your risk factors, taking your blood pressure, and working out your risk using a special calculator.

When needed, your doctor will also design a plan for managing your risk. This may include advice to help you develop a more heart-friendly lifestyle, medications to manage any health conditions (such as high blood pressure or cholesterol), and ongoing monitoring of your risk factors.

People aged 45 years and over, or 30 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, are eligible for an annual Heart Health Check.


5. What can I do to help prevent heart disease?

You can do several things to support better heart health, including:


6. My GP recommended I see a cardiologist. What does a cardiologist do and what tests might they run?

A cardiologist is a medical doctor with additional advanced training in the assessment, management and prevention of heart disease. Your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist if they believe an expert opinion would help with managing your heart health.

A cardiologist may arrange for you to have specialised scans or tests, such as an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) or specific blood tests. These give doctors a more complete picture of what’s happening with your heart and help to guide treatment decisions.


7. I have more questions, who can I ask?

If you have more questions about your heart health, talk to your GP and ask for a referral to one of our leading cardiologists at Gold Coast Private Hospital. 



[1] Heart Foundation. Are you at risk of heart disease? Accessed online 26.7.2022.

[2] Better Health Channel. Heart disease - know your risk. Accessed online 26.7.2022.

[3] Heart Foundation. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Are you at risk of heart disease? Accessed online 26.7.2022.

[4] Heart Foundation. For professionals: Heart Health Checks Accessed online 26.7.2022.

[5] Heart Foundation. Smoking and your heart. Accessed online 26.7.2022.

[6] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Physical activity. Accessed online 26.7.2022.

[7] Healthdirect. Exercise and mental health Accessed online 26.7.2022.

[8] Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. How much alcohol is safe to drink? Accessed online 26.7.2022.

Reviewed by Prof Kuljit Singh:

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