Listen to your heart (and then make a plan!)

Rob Stewart 07 October 2019
Listen to your heart (and then make a plan!)

Life is always full of important occasions that nobody wants to miss; a birthday, a wedding, or the once in a lifetime trip in Africa. With an event coming up it would be unusual not to check the weather and ensure that plans are made, yet alone continue with that plan when factors are conspiring against it. 

The same can apply to cardiovascular diseases, one of major risks when we are getting on in years but are young at heart and are still out enjoying life and bringing joy to other people’s lives. The great news is that there is a tool, called a cardiovascular risk assessment, that allows us to know what your risks are and what we can do now to minimise these risks.

A recent case was Joe (name changed), a lovely 60 year old man who could not wait to see his daughter graduating from university and then walk her down the aisle. Joe, a long-term smoker, was suffering from diabetes and hypertension and was feeling a bit uncertain. While those two important events had been scrupulously organized, one things still lingering on Joe’s mind was whether he could wait till that day, or even be up to the physical challenge of hectic days. Then he had a chat with his GP who used the cardiovascular risk assessment on him, and found that his risk was 30%. This means that among 100 people in the same position as Joe, 30 of them are expected to have a heart attack or stroke in the next 5 years. Once aware of this risk, Joe was determined to knock it down, so worked with his GP on a shared treatment plan to get ahead of the factors contributing to his risks. While it is certainly not easy to make the changes to bring these risks down, Joe's risk has been steadily decreasing and he is now confident of being part of the events that he is looking forward to in his future.

Do you see yourself in this story? If you're a patient of ours who fits into one of the high risk groups then one of our team will try to use the tool based on information we have, and get in touch with you if the results are significant. If we don't have the information we need, we'll get in touch as you'll need to come in so that we can assess your risks. This is a funded visit for some people, although not for everyone. Spoiler alert: Māori, Pacific and South-Asian populations, those with other known cardiovascular risk factors or at high risk of developing diabetes can take advantage of this tool as early as in their 30s.

If you are concerned, send your GP a message on ManageMyHealth and they'll make a plan with you to understand your risks.

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