Virtual checks and 3D imaging are among the latest high-tech weapons in the fight against heart attack. Now experts are calling for their widespread use in Australia.
Cardiovascular disease is the world's biggest killer - accounting for one in four Australian deaths.
Leading Australian cardiologist Warrick Bishop is calling on Australians to take advantage of cutting edge technologies which can save lives.
Dr Bishop is a member of the Healthy Heart Network - an initiative for early detection and identifying risk groups in order to take preventative steps.
Led by Dr Bishop and Dr Matthew Burdoff, a professor of medicine at California's David Geffen School of Medicine, the Network is calling for widespread use of a Virtual Heart-Check and 3D imaging scan to aid early detection in Australia.
"We tend to take a preventative approach with many other diseases and conditions, yet come to heart attack, largely we take a tow-truck approach," Dr Bishop said.
"We know that 20 per cent of the population will experience cardiovascular disease and are at risk of heart attack, but we don't know who the 20 per cent are. Is it your neighbour, work colleague, me or you?
"That is where the Virtual Heart-Check comes in, followed by a 3D heart imaging scan for high-risk and intermediate-risk groups."
This imaging test is commonly used in Europe, Asia, and the US, yet not yet in Australia, despite the technology being available.
Now cardiologists are calling on employers, business owners, members of the general population and especially those at high risk to make use of the technology.
"While GPs largely tend to follow a blood pressure indicator and prescribe routine medication for over 50-year-olds, the people actually at risk don't necessarily fit the assumed or logical stereotype," Dr Bishop said.
He said many young, fit and active people were at risk too.
"If we are serious about reducing the number of heart attacks and want to aim to reduce our current cardiovascular and heart disease pandemic, and save lives, then taking the Virtual Heart Check in large numbers is a big step in the right direction."
The Virtual Heart Check is readily available online and is free. The 3D Heart Scan is made available for those deemed to be at risk. To take the check click here.