The National Heart Foundation and Stroke Foundation have commended Minister for Health Greg Hunt after he announced a new national action plan set to tackle heart disease and stroke. The federal government announced on Monday it has provided $170,000 to the development of the Heart and Stroke Action Plan, as the number of people living with cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to increase as Australia’s population ages.
Both health conditions are among Australia’s biggest killers, with CVD affecting one in six Australians and killing a person every 12 minutes. Around 30 per cent of all deaths in Australia are the result of CVD, with diseases including stroke and heart disease costing $8.8 billion annually in healthcare expenses.
The first-of-its-kind plan will focus on the prevention, control and research of cardiovascular disease.
“The National Heart and Stroke Action Plan will reflect current priorities for heart disease and stroke and identify achievable actions that the Federal and state/territory governments and agencies can implement to improve heart disease and stroke outcomes in Australia,” Claire White, Heart Foundation project manager for the action plan, told Starts at 60.
The Heart Foundation and Stroke Foundation are commencing consultation for the action plan and will be asking a variety of people including heart disease and stroke survivors, carers, health professionals to provide feedback.
“There will be consultation roundtables, an online survey and the draft action plan will be available for open consultation to provide input and feedback,” White said. “The Heart Foundation and Stroke Foundation is urging input from all consumers and stakeholders and invite over-60s to provide their input through the online survey for the action plan which will be launched shortly, and other consultation opportunities.”
The purpose of the new action plan is to address gaps in the existing approach to the prevention and control of both heart disease and stroke, as well as identifying other areas where improvements can be made. Programs, activities and initiatives that already work well and provide opportunities to scale up or roll-out more broadly will also be identified.
“The action plan will address gaps in the existing approach to the prevention, treatment and on-going management of people with heart disease and stroke,” White said.
One-fifth of the population aged between 45-74 – or 1.4 million people – have a high risk of experiencing a stroke or heart attack in the next five years, although major gaps in Australia’s approach to the prevention and control of CVD means around one million aren’t receiving the recommended treatment.
“These gaps cost lives and money,” White added. “In identifying these gaps, the action plan will focus on preventing premature deaths, improving quality of life and cutting preventable hospitalisations.”
The plan is set to have a positive impact for the 4.2 million Australians impacted by CVD for the next 10 years.
“The development of a National Heart and Stroke Action Plan will set the agenda for the next decade’s action on heart disease and stroke,” Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan added. “It will help guide resource allocation to life-saving interventions and improve the quality of life for those living with cardiovascular disease.
“It will also help ease pressure on health systems by reducing avoidable hospital admissions.”
The best thing to do at present to assess the risk of heart disease and stroke is to consult a doctor for a heart health check. This assess the likelihood of experiencing a heart attack or stroke within the next five years.
“It’s all about looking at the ‘big picture’ for your heart health, not just one factor alone,” White explained. “The Heart Foundation recommends everyone aged 45 years or older (35 years or older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) have a Heart Health Check.”