Heart disease remains Tasmania's leading single cause of death, with more than 37,000 people believed to be living with the condition.
It also places one of the highest cost burdens on the state's health system, with one in eight Tasmanian deaths attributed to heart disease.
While more people are surviving acute events, an ageing population means Tasmanians are living longer with ongoing chronic heart conditions - many of which are largely preventable.
The Tasmanian 'paradox'
Tasmania has a growing reputation for offering a quality, healthy lifestyle, complete with a healthy environment and plenty of delicious fresh produce.
But, on the other hand, Tasmania experiences the worst health outcomes of any state in the Commonwealth for most indicators of chronic disease.
The Heart Foundation refers to this at the "Tasmanian paradox". The answers, according to state chief executive Graeme Lynch, lie in addressing the "causes behind the causes".
To embed healthy living in all government action and adopt a "health in all policies" approach to improving social determinants of health.
"One thing that has shown the effectiveness of the Heart Foundation over the past 60 years, is that deaths from heart disease have been falling," he said.
"That shows the investment in research is working and saving lives, but people are living longer and with serious morbidity or serious disease.
"In Tasmania we have the highest rate of heart failure in Australia - where a person's heart no longer works effectively.
"These people live a very disadvantaged, debilitating life.
"They are often in and out of hospital, but they can live for a long time in heart failure.
"As we get older, this is a huge problem for our health system and it's costing us a lot of money.
"The way to avoid heart failure is to identify those at a high risk as early as possible, and then treat them."
Have you ever wondered how old you heart is? More specifically, what your heart age is compared to your actual age.
When a person is 45, but their heart age is 50, they face a significantly increased risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
An online tool, the Heart Foundation's heart age calculator is aimed at people aged 35 to 75 who do not have a known history of heart issues.
With questions around age, sex, smoking, diabetes status and blood pressure, the answers are analysed to determine if a person's heart age is above, equal or below their actual age.
If there are concerns a person will then be directed to their GP for a heart health check, which is now covered by Medicare (since April 1).
Designed to identify and manage patients' risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years, the rebate is available for Australians aged 45 and over and Indigenous Australians over 30.
The check involves an assessment of risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, diet and physical activity levels.
Mr Lynch said the change meant barriers previously preventing or deterring GPs from performing an absolute cardiovascular risk assessment, had now been lifted.
"We know if we can identify people at risk, at an early stage, than it is possible to make significant savings in the health system by treating people to guidelines - if they have a higher prevalence of risk," he said.
"But in the past there has been significant barriers to that.
"One, is a lot of GPs have not been fully aware of the guidelines and what is required to undertake an absolute cardiovascular health check.
"The second thing is there haven't been any incentives for GPs to take the additional time to do the heart health check."
The Heart Foundation estimates the heart health check could prevent on average 42 heart events every day for the next five years, including heart attacks, strokes and deaths.
This equates to around one heart event every 35 minutes, or a total of 76,500 over five years.
Action on prevention
Mr Lynch said the Heart Foundation had been calling for the state government to develop a statewide cardiac services plan for the past eight years.
In the "absence of action" the foundation established its own plan aimed at improving preventative measures.
The plan is based on four strategic directions: promoting healthy living and improved detection of the early stages of heart disease; better and faster access to time critical cardiac care; improved services for people with heart disease; and strengthening system performance.
Despite the statistics, Mr Lynch said there was still an alarming level of complacency around heart disease - with the heart age calculator and GP checks aimed at increasing the rate of early intervention.
"This is a two-pronged attack," he explained.
"One is to educate GPs and support GPs in being aware of the guidelines and understanding what an absolute cardiac risk assessment is and encouraging them to do it.
"The second is to encourage the Tasmanian population to go to their GP and ask for the heart check.
"Cost is always a deterrent.
"But the purpose is to break down the complacency.
"If someone is 50 and their heart age is 55, then clearly there is an issue and the message is to go and see your GP."