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New Heart Calculator Determines Your Risk From 'Australia's Biggest Serial Killer'

Almost 19,000 Australians died from heart disease in 2017.

We all know the concept of an old soul, but some Australians may soon be learning they have an old heart.

Unfortunately, that's not a good thing but it is hoped the discovery will prompt some people to do more to protect themselves from the nation's biggest killer.

The Heart Foundation has launched an online calculator to help Australians aged 35 to 75 determine how their "heart age" measures up against their actual age.

It does so by comparing their risk of having a heart attack or stroke to others their age, taking into account their own specific risk factors.

Those include high blood pressure, diabetes, family history, smoking, not exercising enough and certain medications.

Angela Bernaldo's sister Gail died of heart disease when she was just 30 years old. Photo: Heart Foundation.

Heart Foundation chief medical adviser Garry Jennings expects the online test will be a wake up call, with many people set to find their heart is older than it should be.

He said people are usually aware they have some big risk factors, such as being overweight.

But they often don't take into account the accumulation of lots of minor ones, such as blood pressure on the higher range of normal.

"What they're not realising is that it's the totality of your lifestyle and your family history and your habits and medicines and other things that determine your risk, not just one single thing," Professor Jennings told AAP.

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He said people shouldn't be afraid of learning they're at a higher risk of heart disease than their peers, which would be a good reason to go to a doctor, have a heart check and make changes to reduce your risk.

"If you're not aware of it, you're likely to just keep going on and increase your likelihood of heart disease later in life," he said.

Heart disease remains Australia's biggest killer.

An average of 21 people die from a heart attack across the nation each day, while 22 are killed by a stroke, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.