Three-quarters of Australians and New Zealanders admitted to hospital with severe heart conditions are not receiving the basic preventive care needed to reduce the chance of future heart attacks, a landmark study has found.
“It’s not good enough that the majority of patients leaving hospital miss out on the most basic care
they need to avoid repeat heart attacks down the line,” said study leader Julie Redfern of The George Institute and The University of Sydney.
About 75,000 Australians are hospitalised due to Acute Coronary Syndrome (commonly heart
attacks) a year, with half of the cases reported in 2010 due to repeat events. Repeat events are
more likely to be fatal.
International and Australian guidelines universally recommend preventive care for people who have
an acute event, in order to avoid a repeat heart attack.
This preventive package should start during the initial hospital admission and include a combination of medications, lifestyle advice and referral to a preventive service such as cardiac rehabilitation.
But the study found that only 35% got some form of healthy eating advice, 43% were told something about the importance of staying active, 70% of smokers were told about the importance of stopping smoking and only 46% were referred for rehabilitation.
Also, at discharge, 35% of patients were on three or fewer medications, even though most of them should be on five.
Associate Professor Redfern said that of the quarter of patients who do get the proper care, only about half actually go on to improve their lifestyle or continue medications over the longer-term.
She said this study highlights the potential to save Australia’s health system hundreds of millions of dollars by preventing secondary heart attacks.
The Heart Foundation says heart disease greatly diminishes a person’s quality of life, killing off more and more of the heart muscle after each subsequent attack.
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