The Heart Foundation has today welcomed the announcement by Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, to invest a further $4 million to tackle two of Australia’s biggest killers – heart disease and stroke.
“Minister Hunt has clearly placed prevention on the government’s agenda for 2019, and we applaud him for that,” said National Heart Foundation Acting Group CEO, Graeme Lynch AM.
The $4 million investment will support priorities in the National Heart and Stroke Action Plan developed by the Heart Foundation and Stroke Foundation for the Federal Government.
The plan will focus on the prevention, treatment, care and research of cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke.
“We now look forward to working with the Government to deliver this plan, which is an opportunity to avoid premature deaths and save lives,” Mr lynch said.
The Heart Foundation also welcomed the Government’s funding commitment of $500,000 to update the 2012 Guidelines for the Management of Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk to reflect evidence about best practice.
The revised guidelines will promote the use of Heart Health Checks in Australia, which recently received a dedicated interim item number on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).
Mr Lynch said the clinical guidelines will help doctors and policy-makers to make the best healthcare decisions for Australians at risk of heart disease and stroke.
“As of this week, people 45 years and over, or 30 years and over for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders, can see their GP for a Medicare-funded heart health check to find out if they are at risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next five years,” he said.
“We believe this initiative has the potential to prevent 76,500 heart events and stroke over the next five years. That is 42 heart events avoided every day.”
Today’s announcement follows the Federal Government’s pre-Budget promise of $220 million for a 10-year Mission for Cardiovascular Health, awarded under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). This was bolstered by $35 million for a vaccine to end Rheumatic Heart Disease.
“In this week’s Federal Budget, we also saw funding commitments for a national anti-smoking campaign, promotion of physical activity through sport and continued funding for the Health Star Rating system and the National Cardiac Registry.
“These measures will help plug gaps in Australia’s approach to the prevention and control of heart disease and stroke. They will result in benefits to patients, health professionals, government and the economy,” Mr Lynch said.