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Study shows more needs to be done to improve the lives of heart attack survivors

National Secondary Prevention Alliance formed to reform health practices in cardiac care.

Many heart attack survivors underestimate their risk of having a repeat heart attack, and fail to follow GP advice or attend rehabilitation, according to a new report by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

Two out of three heart attack survivors do not make the necessary lifestyle changes to prevent a repeat heart attack, the study has shown, pointing to the urgent need to reform health practices in this area.

According to Cardiologist Clara Chow of The George Institute and The University of Sydney, the number of Australians dying of repeat heart attacks is expected to almost double within the next 10 years if nothing is done to address the current gaps in preventative services.

“It is this unacceptable forecast that has driven a broad group of national healthcare, consumer, government and non-government organisations to unite as the Secondary Prevention Alliance,” Professor Chow says.

“The priority of the alliance is to find ways of improving lifelong outcomes for Australians living with heart disease,” she says.  

“The wealth of experience within this Alliance will assist with creating advocacy tools to influence politicians and policy makers to invest in preventive care services, not only in hospital, but very importantly in primary care and community settings.

The Secondary Prevention Alliance will also aim to engage the wider healthcare professional community, patients and carers to bridge the gap between hospital and primary healthcare.

“To have a nationally united group such as this alliance is a great step towards beginning the reform process and making secondary prevention of coronary heart disease a national priority,” Professor Chow said.

“Once a patient leaves hospital following a heart attack, ongoing care and support is essential if a patient is to stay out of hospital, to have the best chance of recovery, and to understand that heart disease is a chronic disease that needs to be managed every day,” she said.

Members of the alliance:

Australian Cardiovascular Health and Rehabilitation Association
Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care
Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association
Australian Medicare Locals Alliance
Australian Practice Nurses Association
Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand
Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand Cardiovascular Nursing Council
Consumer representative - individual
Flinders University, South Australia
Heart Support Australia
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
National Heart Foundation of Australia
National Prescribing Service
Private Healthcare Australia
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
Royal Australian College of Physicians
The George Institute for Global Health
University New South Wales
University of Western Australia