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Heart risk assessment

A heart risk assessment is also called a cardiovascular risk assessment. It's an estimate of how likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke within the next five years.

If you have a 10% risk, it means we would expect 10 out of 100 people with the same risk as you to have a heart attack or stroke within the next 5 years.

The factors used to work out your heart risk are your age, sex, ethnicity, medical history (such as past or current heart problems, diabetes, stroke and so on) and your family medical history. Your cholesterol levels, smoking history and blood pressure are also used.

When you should have a heart risk assessment

The age you should start having heart risk assessments depends on your sex, ethnicity and other risk factors.

Risk factors

Men

Women

You don't have any risk factors.

45 years

55 years

You're Māori, Pasifika or South Asian (Indian – including Fijian Indian, Sri Lankan, Afghani, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Pakistani or Tibetan)

30 years

40 years

You have any of the following risk factors:

35 years

45 years

You have diabetes (type 1 or 2).

As part of your yearly diabetes review

You have schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder or another severe mental illness.

25 years

When you've reached the age to have heart risk assessments, you should have one every five to 10 years. But if you're found to have a high risk, you'll need to have a yearly health check.

My Heart Check tool

My Heart Check is a free online heart health check developed by the Heart Foundation. It's designed for Kiwis and based on New Zealand data.

My Heart Check can estimate your heart age compared to your actual age, as well as giving you an estimate of your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 5 years.

The free online tool works best for people aged 30 to 75. You can still use it if you are older or younger, but your result may be less accurate.

Use My Heart Check to:

My Heart Check will ask you for information such as:

If you aren't sure about some of this information, you can leave it out, as the tool can base your results on an estimate.

This tool isn't recommended if you've had a heart attack, angina, some other heart conditions or a stroke. These conditions mean you're already at a high risk.

If the results show you're at an increased risk, you'll be advised to see your GP or nurse.

GP or nurse

You can also do a heart risk assessment with your GP or nurse. They can calculate your heart risk based on your age, medical history and other risk factors. They can also advise how often you should have a heart risk assessment.

Self care for heart health

Knowing your risk can help you to decide to make some positive lifestyle changes. You have an important role to play in your heart health. While you can't change some risk factors, you can change others. The choices you make every day do matter. Over time, what you eat, drink, do and how you live can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Even a small change can have a positive impact on your risk of heart attack and stroke. The more healthy changes you make, the better it is for your heart health. Changes you can make include:

Getting help with your heart health

As well as lifestyle changes, if you're at an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, you may need medication to reduce your risk. This may include medication to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Your GP or nurse can recommend the best treatments for you.

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Adapted from Health Navigator by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created February 2021.

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Page reference: 836343

Review key: HIHRA-836343