Leading charity hearts4heart has commissioned new Australian research, uncovering a concerning lack of awareness regarding risk factors associated with heart disease1 – a condition that can lead to heart failure.
Heart failure, a leading cause of death in Australia,4 affects up to half a million Australians3 and is responsible for eight lives lost each day.5
According to the study, two in three (66%) Australians who are susceptible to heart disease fail to recognise their risk, with an astonishing eight in ten (82%) Australians aged 65 or over not identifying age as a risk factor.1 However, as Australians live longer, the incidence of heart issues leading to heart failure increases.2
“Heart failure doesn’t mean your heart has failed, but rather that it’s failing to keep up with your body’s demands,” 7 said Associate Professor John Amerena, Director of the Geelong Cardiology Research Unit.
“When left untreated, heart failure progressively worsens,6 but with early diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle changes, a person with heart failure can reduce their risk of hospitalisation and improve their quality of life.”
The research also found that six in ten (61%) Australians with a family history of heart conditions and six in ten (60%) Australians with high blood pressure were unaware of the potential link to heart disease,1 including heart failure.
“Unfortunately, dangerously low levels of awareness are leaving Australians vulnerable to this long-term condition,” said hearts4heart CEO Tanya Hall, who lost her father to heart failure when he was just 59.
To address this issue and support current and future patients, hearts4heart is launching an Australian-first guide in Parliament House this week, in collaboration with patients, clinicians, and the Parliamentary Friends of Heart and Stroke Foundations.
‘Understanding Heart Failure: A Practical Guide for all Australians’ is a comprehensive resource that supports individuals at risk of heart failure, and those living with the condition, offering valuable insights from clinicians and patients.
The guide features personal stories and experiences, including that of Katrina Tenne, who initially underestimated her risk despite her family’s history of cardiomyopathy. Katrina is now sharing her story during Heart Failure Awareness Week [June 19-25] to encourage Australians to prioritise their heart health and seek support when needed.
“Heart disease is all around us, but we don’t think it will actually happen to us. If you are always feeling tired, your body is trying to tell you something. Speak to your GP about your symptoms,” Ms Tenne said.
In May 2023, the Heart Health Check program, subsidised by Medicare, was extended for another two years, allowing people aged 45 and over and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 30 and over to assess their risk of heart disease during a 20-minute consultation with a medical practitioner.
“If you have family members with a heart condition, get your heart checked, and get your kids’ hearts checked,” urged Ms Tenne.
“You’ve only got one heart – don’t fail it!”
Supported by Australian and New Zealand cardiologists, hearts4heart is a leading health promotion charity supporting, educating, and advocating for people living with heart disease.
To find out more about heart failure and to download ‘Understanding Heart Failure: A Practical Guide for all Australians’ and the Heart Failure Symptom Tracker, visit hearts4heart.org.au.
About the research
The study surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,013 Australians aged 18 years and older in between 18 to 22 May 2023.
The survey was conducted using an online survey administered to members of the YouGov Plc Australian panel of 71,000+ individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys. Following the completion of the survey, the data was weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.
- Hearts4heart. (2023). Perceptions of heart disease in Australia. [data on file].
- Hearts4heart. (2022). Heart Failure Patient & Caregiver Charter. Retrieved from https://hearts4heart.org.au/event/heart-failure-awareness-week/
- AIHW. (2023). Heart, stroke and vascular disease: Australian facts. Retrieved from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/heart-stroke-vascular-diseases/hsvd-facts/contents/heart-stroke-and-vascular-disease-subtypes/heart-failure-and-cardiomyopathy
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2021). Causes of death, Australia. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/causes-death/causes-death-australia/latest-release
- Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Causes of death 2019, cat. No. 3303.0, October
- ACSQHC. (2023). Heart Failure. Retrieved from: https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/our-work/healthcare-variation/fourth-atlas-2021/chronic-disease-and-infection-potentially-preventable-hospitalisations/22-heart-failure
- Global Heart Hub. (2023). Your guide to your journey: heart failure. Retrieved from: https://globalhearthub.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/GHH_HF-PatientGuide.pdf
Text by: Hearts4heart