Heart attack danger for 'Generation Risk'
MORE than 1.1 million Australians aged over 55 face a greater than 30 per cent risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke in the next five years, with a further 1.5 million facing more than a 15 per cent risk.
A report to be published today says the figures amount to almost 50 per cent of Australians in the over-55s bracket facing at least a 15 per cent chance of a cardiovascular attack in the next five years.
The report by independent consultants Access Economics claims the figures mean the over-55s can be described as "Generation Risk" as the population ages and risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, become more widespread.
Expert advisers who helped compile the report said the findings underlined the importance of lifestyle modification, such as improved diet and exercise.
They also claim the results highlight the need for patients to keep taking medicines they have been prescribed -- triggering warnings to treat the report with caution as it was commissioned and financially supported by the German drug giant Boehringer Ingelheim.
Boehringer Ingelheim makes a blood-pressure-lowering drug that was the 35th most commonly prescribed drug on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in 2008-09, costing taxpayers more than $27 million in that year.
Murray Esler, a cardiologist at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and an expert adviser on the Access Economics report, said in a statement accompanying the release that "the report shows that one in five people stop taking blood pressure medications after just one month, and 80 per cent stop taking these medications after 30 months".
Jon Jureidini, associate professor in the school of psychiatry at the University of Adelaide and a spokesman for Healthy Skepticism, said while Professor Esler's comments sounded reasonable, people had "good grounds to be suspicious" of the wider findings, given the drug company's support.
"Past experience has been that when drug companies support press releases, they do not always provide balanced information," Dr Jureidini said.