This research aimed to determine Australian adults' perceptions of risk factors for heart disease, self-reported behaviours relating to modifiable risk factors, and knowledge of leading causes of death. This study reports on HeartWatch survey data collected between January 2015 and December 2015 in a sample of Australian adults. The setting of the research was Australian communities, with all states and territories represented in the final sample. Participants were Australian adults aged 30–59 years (n = 8425), and were representative of the wider Australian population based on key demographic and health characteristics. Half of the sample overall correctly identified heart disease as the biggest underlying cause of death of males, and 26% for women. For risk factors for heart disease, respondents most frequently reported; poor diet (58.2%, 95%CI 57.0–59.1), physical inactivity (49.0%, 95%CI 47.9–50.1) and smoking (38.7%, 95%CI 37.7–39.8). A low proportion (< 10%) recognised underlying clinical risk factors for heart disease including high blood pressure (6.3%, 95%CI 5.8–6.8) and dyslipidaemia (9.8%, 95%CI 9.2–10.5). This study revealed broad misconceptions with regard to the leading cause of death and risk factors for heart disease among Australian men and women. Overall the lack of understanding in all groups suggests the need for a comprehensive national campaign reaching schools and the broad adult population. The health system alone cannot achieve national and international targets for disease prevention without understanding and engagement in the general community.
- Heart disease
- Risk factors