Boosting aftercare for heart patients will save lives and reduce health costs

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Greater uptake of cardiac rehabilitation will save lives and reduce costs to the health system by $86.7 million, according to new research published by the Heart Foundation in Heart, Lung and Circulation journal’s February 2016 edition.

The analysis conducted by the Heart Foundation and EY investigated the social and economic impact of increasing participation in cardiac rehabilitation in Victoria using cost benefit analysis.

EY Partner Cameron Bird said that this analysis has provided additional insights into the wider, longer-term impacts of cardiac rehabilitation.

“Our analysis shows that greater participation in cardiac rehabilitation can reduce the burden of disease by improving outcomes for patients after a heart attack or other cardiac event,” Mr Bird said.

“This directly translates to a reduction of costs in the healthcare system and wider economy, which more than offsets the costs associated with the increase in participation.”

Heart Foundation Victoria CEO, Diana Heggie, said cardiac rehabilitation is the first, critical step on the road to recovery from a heart attack.

“Cardiac rehabilitation is a program that helps patients return to normal life and reduces their risk of having a repeat heart attack or cardiac event, yet only 30% of patients currently attend programs in Australia,” Ms Heggie said.

This analysis shows that if uptake was increased to 65% over a ten year period:

  • The healthcare system would save up to $86.7 million
  • The social and economic benefits would increase by $227.2 million
  • Hospitals would see 5,133 fewer readmissions
  • The years of healthy life lost would be reduced by 37,565.

Ms Heggie said the main reasons patients are not attending cardiac rehabilitation is a lack of referral to and promotion of cardiac rehabilitation programs.

“Referral and promotion of cardiac rehabilitation is not standard practice in our hospitals and programs are not available or accessible to all patients, especially to those living in rural and remote areas,” Ms Heggie said.

“If you have a heart attack today, you will receive the highest quality treatment to help you survive that event. However, you aren’t guaranteed to get the support you need to recover and keep you out of hospital once you are discharged.

“The results of this analysis highlight why we need more effective patient education and routine referral in our hospitals, as well as reforms to boost uptake of cardiac rehabilitation.”

The Heart Foundation is calling on the State Government to work with them to   improve referral and participation in the cardiac rehabilitation programs in Victoria.

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Media contact: Sarah Terry, Media and Communications Advisor, 0423 827 697.

Note: The article ‘Economic and Social Impact of Increasing Uptake of Cardiac Rehabilitation Services – A Cost Benefit Analysis’ can be found online.

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