It has been a long-known fact that cardiovascular disease and heart attack is and still remains the biggest killer of both men and women across the country, and that 25% of these affect people younger than 65 years of age is astounding. Especially, when an estimated 80% of these heart attacks are preventable.
Leading preventative cardiologist Dr Warrick Bishop, says, “We have to take a pro-active stance around heart attack if we are serious about curbing the sheer number of cases and with it the many lives lost, often too early.”
Dr Bishop, an authority on preventative cardiology in Australia, has been advocating for early testing to identify risk factors for heart attack and to undertake 3D Heart Imaging Scans – which are still not broadly accessed for people that fit the intermediate-risk group.
We spend over $5 billion annually in providing care and rehabilitation to those who survive a heart attack, yet don’t invest in prevention.
Come to cancer, our government invests around 120 million dollars per annum on early detection of cancer, such as breast screening, bowel cancer tests, and the like, however in view of the billions spent on providing post-heart-attack care, wouldn’t funding preventative measures of heart attacks be a valuable investment?
“We have to look at the key factors around heart attack and actively reduce these. Combined with early testing, being at between 45-50 years for men, 55-60 years for women, and 30 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, we can actually bring these shocking statistics around heart attack down,” said Dr Bishop.
“While we have seen a spike in people taking the Virtual Heart Scan online and consequently getting sent for the 3D Heart Imaging Scan, it is by far not enough to curb the occurrence of heart attacks, be it in younger or middle-aged Australians, or the over 65-year-old population,” says Dr Warrick Bishop, who heads the Healthy Heart Network.
“The big difference with 3D heart imaging, a specialised CT scan of the chest that takes only minutes to complete, is that it literally allows cardiologists to see the condition of the heart to identify calcification, indicating plaque build-up in the arteries, and it has already saved hundreds if not thousands of lives,” explains Dr Bishop.
According to experts, we don’t get the same level of insight into people’s individual heart health from stress tests or risk indicators such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
While the key risk factors that affect most Australians are diet, lack of exercise, being overweight, age, smoking/drinking alcohol, stress and family history – unless we literally look ‘under the bonnet’ we are only guessing the condition of the ‘engine’, says Dr Bishop.
We are 10-15 years behind the US, UK, and Europe when it comes to 3D image testing for heart attacks and yet we have had the technology available for as long.
“We have to do something and in the absence of a broad-scale drive to get everyone with two or more risk factors tested with a 3D Heart Imaging Scan, we will have to take matters into our own hands. This means people have to decide to be proactive for themselves and get their heart health checked for their own sake and that of their families,” says Dr Bishop.
To get tested, get your risk group identified and access the 3D Heart Imaging Scan – go to virtualheartscan.com.au.