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While you might be excused for thinking we are talking about a virus that has been spreading like wildfire; cancer; cigarettes and alcohol or even road accidents - no that’s not it. Truth be told, this killer affects an estimated 430,000 Australians and one in three people know someone affected by it.

In fact, by the time you are done reading this article, another person will have unsuspectingly come to the crossroads of life and death by facing Australia’s biggest killer.

It kills twice as many people as lung cancer and is over ten times a bigger killer than road accidents - yet, we are still more concerned with the treatment once it has occurred than its early detection and prevention.

I am talking about Heart Attack, which claims more lives than any other cause and costs our economy, our insurers and our loved ones dearly. 94% of Australians have at least one risk factor for heart disease and 59% of Australians have been touched by heart disease. Yet only 3% of Australians have had a full heart-health assessment in the past 12 months.

In our daily lives we don’t think twice about taking our car to get serviced while it still runs well, so why do we wait until the most important engine in our lives, our hearts, breaks down before we act?

Guy Leech, former World Ironman Champion, 7-times Lifesaving Super Series winner and keen sportsperson has long turned his attention to this looming killer after having lost one of his training buddies and best mates to a heart attack six years ago. It has caused him to urge, or better - demand - everyone in his training squad to take the early detection heart test, which brought staggering results.

Out of his squad of 100 people, all of whom could be considered in the top 1% in terms of health, fitness and healthy lifestyle, so 100 fit, healthy aussies between 40-70 years of age went and got checked. Five of them had to have stents put in straight away. One of them had two put in; he was the 40 year old who was the fittest in the group and was about to represent Australia two weeks later over in America in a five-hour race, running, swimming, paddling, and cycling. And, fifteen others had to go on medication.

Incident rates show that around 20% of the population are affected by cardiovascular disease which unless detected early, can lead to heart attack. In order to get a first assessment and help more Australians with early detection and to which risk group you belong to, the Virtual Heart Scan Consultation has been developed by Dr Warrick Bishop and his team at the Healthy Heart Network as an Australian first of its kind.

“The Virtual Heart Scan Consultation ‘VHS’ allows you to find out which level of risk group you belong to and what are the best next steps you need to take for effective heart attack prevention,” says Leech.

“The reality is if you can remember VHS tapes you should consider a VHS Consultation. We get our car engine serviced at 50 000km, so why not our hearts at 50 years or earlier, especially if there is a history of early heart disease in the family,” adds Leech.

According to leading Cardiologist and bestselling author Dr Warrick Bishop, “When it comes to the heart, being aware of your blood pressure and keeping it down, being aware of your cholesterol levels and dealing with it appropriately, undertaking regular exercise, not smoking and addressing other cardiovascular risks are all important for a safe journey through life.”

“However, on their own, they offer no guarantee of avoiding a heart attack, although they are likely to reduce the risk.”

More and more health experts advocate a different approach as the heart attack killer is simply claiming too many lives, many of which could be saved. By implementing an earlier assessment of your heart’s condition called a Virtual Heart Scan Consultation and then managing low risk people, and undertaking a full Cardiac CT Scan for grey zone and high risk members, heart disease can be identified earlier and drastically reduce the numbers of heart attacks.

The latest technology Cardiac CT scanning allows doctors and specialists to see what previously could not be seen. Cardiac CT scanning uses a fast CT scanner to take a series of cross-section X-Ray pictures of your heart. These individual X-Rays are then combined to create a complete 3D picture of your heart and all its arteries. From a Cardiologist and Radiologist’s perspective, viewing this 3D picture is literally like seeing inside your body.

The surprising factor here is, that often it is the fit, active and healthy appearing people who can be at great risk, as we have seen from Guy Leech’s experience. People who work in high stress environments, physical workers, shift, rotation and transport workers, to name just a few, are considered potentially high risk and are recommended to undergo early testing. However, that does not mean that low-stress, fit or less active individuals are risk-free.

While 62% of victims will survive a heart attack, for many it brings major life changes, which could have possibly been avoided. With heart disease remaining the biggest killer, unless we change our ‘tow truck’ approach and focus on early detection and prevention instead, it will remain the same, urges Guy Leech.

Dr Matthew Burdoff is a professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine in California, who has led extensive research into CT scanning and early detection of cardiovascular disease and heart attack prevention for over 15 years. He is considered the foremost authority on the subject and has just been a keynote presenter at the 16th Annual Cardiometabolic Health Congress in the US on the subject. 

Dr Burdoff also trains cardiologists, among which is Australian Dr Warrick Bishop, who has been featured as a leading cardiology expert across TV, print and online media, including a feature program on 60 Minutes with Charles Wooley talking about heart attack risk and prevention.

Dr Bishop says,“there is no disadvantage in undertaking early detection testing and treatment of cardiovascular disease. I often say that 50 years (50,000 km) of age for men and 60 years (60,000 km) of age for women is a good time to think about screening unless there is a bad family history of early heart disease, in which case sooner may well be appropriate. For too many people the first symptoms of heart disease is a heart attack. And, while survival is possible, the death rates speak for themselves.”

If you are like most people, then you assume that leading a healthy lifestyle is a guarantee for preventing heart attack and to be an effective preventative health plan, but as Guy Leech had to learn first hand, it certainly isn’t.

Guy Leech said in a recent interview, “losing one of your best mates or a loved one, when you know it could have been detected earlier and prevented, is a hard lesson to learn. One I don’t wish on anyone. I can only urge you to take action and get tested. Because, if there is no problem, then it gives you peace of mind, but if you don’t, then uncertainty will constantly be hovering over you.”

“We cannot know who the people that make up the 20% of our population are, and who will face cardiovascular disease or heart attack. Is it me, your neighbour, or could it be you?”, Leech says.

If you have not had a recent heart check-up, getting the Virtual Heart Scan Consultation is recommended in order to see if a CT Scan is necessary. Let’s change the stats around heart attacks in Australia. After all, you get your car regularly checked before something goes wrong and don’t just guess when it needs it. You get someone to look under the bonnet.

Why would you just guess when it comes to your heart?

The Virtual Heart Scan Consultation is available at www.virtualheartscan.com with referral pathways available for the full CT Scan at just $99 without having to book appointments with your GP, a specialist or going on waitlists. For more details and a free copy of Dr Warrick Bishop’s #1 international bestselling book ‘Know Your Real Risk of Heart Attack’ log onto the website.

Here is to a healthy heart!

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Guy Leech and leading cardiologist Dr Warrick Bishop are available for further comment and interviews, please contact Sam Hawthorn on sam@smart-solutions.com.au or 1800 992 150, thank you

 

Free Heart Risk Check (VHS)

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