Heart disease and stroke are Australia’s biggest killers and a major cause of hospital admissions. More than 3.7 million Australians are living with cardiovascular disease, and it accounts for around 11% percent of national health care expenditure, with around half of this spent on hospital-admitted patients.
While we now have low cost treatments that, in combination, reduce the risk of premature death or hospital admission due to cardiovascular disease by half or more, a very large proportion of those at highest risk are not following treatment plans as recommended. And while almost all patients are started on recommended medicines after a heart attack, most do not continue to take these medications long-term.
The burden of heart disease on health systems is immense. Studies suggest heart disease costs Australia over $18 billion per year – more than any other disease group. Half of this is attributable to repeat events, with this cost expected to increase to $11.8 billion by 2020. Improving uptake and adherence to recommended medication will ease this burden on both the health system and the patient.