The care of around eight million Australians could be impacted by a Federal Government decision to launch a major update to the cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines, according to The National Heart Foundation of Australia.

The guidelines update, the first in over 10 years, will provide clinicians with the most up-to-date evidence on the early detection, assessment, and management of cardiovascular disease risk.

Along with the new guidelines, a calculator has been designed for general practitioners to more accurately estimate their patients’ risk of cardiovascular disease.

 Guidelines and calculations

For the first time, the guidelines and calculator provide a risk equation that has been uniquely modified and recalibrated for the Australian population using contemporary cohort data, making it easier for GPs to better identify high-risk people in need of treatment.

The announcement follows the government pledge to commit $1 million this financial year (2023–24) to commence implementation of the guidelines and embedding of the calculator into GP software, announced in the 2023 May Budget.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2020–21, an estimated 571,000 Australians aged 18 and over were living with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).

The same data shows the prevalence of CHD increases rapidly with age, affecting around one in nine (11 percent) adults aged 75 and over.

 How many?

Yet even after decades of progress, cardiovascular disease, which costs Australia more than $12.7 billion each year, remains the nation’s biggest killer and accounts for one in four Australian deaths.
 The Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler called the cardiovascular disease calculator “the new gold standard” in assessing the risk of cardiovascular disease in Australians.
 “Every day, 117 Australians die from this disease. The new guidelines will help medical professionals across the country to provide earlier detection and treatment for the disease, bringing new hope and help to thousands of Australians.”
 National Heart Foundation CEO David Lloyd noted: “Many years from now we will look back on this day and note that the new guideline was a major turning point in saving many Australians from cardiovascular disease.”

 60 days

The updated guidelines follow a series of other Albanese Government measures aimed at reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease, including extending the temporary MBS Heart Health Assessment items, and implementing 60-day prescriptions for many ongoing health conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol and other heart conditions.
 60-day prescriptions will mean twice the medication for the cost of a single prescription.

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