ACT to become a world-leader in preventing heart disease

The ACT Government is bringing together clinical and academic experts to create a person-centred program that will help prevent heart attacks in patients and improve cardiovascular health in the ACT.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris said the government will invest $600,000, as well as in-kind support to deliver a three-year trial driven by the Australian National University (ANU). The project is set to change the way in which people with existing cardiovascular disease are managed day in day out, for better health outcomes.

“This week is Heart Week (28 April – 4 May) so I’m pleased to announce our new Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Project with the ANU, which is a really important preventive health program that aims to reduce death, disability and hospital readmission as a result of cardiovascular disease,” Minister Fitzharris said.

“Heart disease remains one of the leading causes of disease in the ACT, and according to the latest Chief Health Officer’s Report, accounts for 63.9 per cent of hospitalisations for those over the age of 65 in the ACT.

“Often people who have survived a heart attack or stroke struggle to commit to a thorough clinical management regime to keep a second attack at bay. This new program will aim to make it easier for patients to manage their condition so they can avoid another attack, a trip to hospital or much worse.”

According to research by the ANU, the reasons patients might struggle to commit to a treatment regime are multifaceted and include medical and non-medical priorities, patients becoming disconnected with the right medical advice and information, and financial strain.

The ANU will oversee a team comprising the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health and the ANU Academic Unit of General Practice, which will trial a person-centred consultation process for patients, which puts them and their families and carers at the centre of their decisions.

This world-leading body of work tap into the expertise of patients who will contribute to co-designing the patient-centred consultations to ensure the model of care developed meets their needs from changing behaviours to prevent another attack, through to getting the clinical assessments and consults required.

The project will include:

  • Transport support for patients taking part in the program;
  • Strategies to ensure effective and timely communication from the hospital to the patient’s GP and a program to support appointments within a week of discharge; and
  • Analysis of and identifying patients who require additional support in the provision of medication to ensure patients are following clinical prescriptions and helping patients to manage medication with other comorbidities.

“A program such as this has the potential to prevent heart disease by implementing a program that helps people to manage their health and clinical needs with the right supports at the right time.

“The data and intelligence gathered as a result of this trial will determine what works and what doesn’t work when coordinating the links between primary and hospital care and the foundations for the policy work that will underpin a stronger preventive health program for people prone to a second heart attack,” said Minister Fitzharris.

This is part of the ACT Government’s approach to ensure a strong approach to preventive health and helping Canberrans to live healthier lives.

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