NACCHO Aboriginal Heart Health : @ourANU @Mayi_Kuwayu Report high levels of risk of heart disease and #stroke for young and old #Indigenous Australians can be prevented : Plus @strokefdn Response

Recognising the risk will help save and improve lives and contribute to Closing the Gap in life expectancy.

Heart checks may need to start earlier in order to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but the good news is most heart attacks and strokes can be prevented.

Critical to this is knowing who is at risk and encouraging lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking, and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The study also found that many people at high risk of heart attacks or strokes are not aware of it and most are not receiving currently recommended therapy to lower their cholesterol.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt releasing the study

Ken Wyatt Heart study press release

 ” Programs aimed at prevention should also be co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, taking into account social and cultural barriers that impact access and ongoing treatment.

The good news is, we know heart attacks and strokes can be prevented and we have effective treatments to achieve this. Within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities there is huge potential to prevent heart attacks and stroke.

Many people don’t receive a heart check and could be at high risk without knowing it. Prevention starts with getting a heart check and continuing to use any medications prescribed to you by your doctor to lower your risk ‘

Download the Report here Heart Stroke Report

OR Read online HERE

ANU researchers have met with Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt, Aboriginal woman and heart health researcher Vicki Wade and to launch new study on First Nations people heart health.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were twice as likely to be hospitalised with stroke and 1.4 times as likely to die from stroke than non-indigenous Australians. 

Stroke can be prevented, it can be treated and it can be beaten. We must act now to stem the tide of this devastating disease

Steps must be taken immediately to increase stroke awareness and access to health checks through targeted action. Federal and state government must come together to address this issue.”

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said the research results were frightening. See Full Press Release Part 2 below

” Australian’s national guidelines currently say heart health screening should begin at age 35 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, new research has found there’s a high risk of Indigenous people under 35 developing cardiovascular disease.

The study also shows Indigenous people have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease in older age.

Researchers say this information will be important to help identify risks earlier, and prevent disease from developing ”

Dr Norman Swan radio interview LISTEN HERE

Professor Emily Banks

Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra

Associate Professor Ray Lovett

Head of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra

Most heart attacks and strokes can be prevented with appropriate treatment. Yet heart disease, including heart attacks, causes 13% of deaths among Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is a major contributor to the gap in life expectancy with non-Indigenous Australians.

New findings from a study published today in the Medical Journal of Australia show vast room for improvement in heart health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Who is at risk?

This new research found 10% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 35-74 years old have heart disease (compared to 9% aged 45-74 in the general population). Another 16% are at high risk of getting heart disease (compared to 11% aged 45-74 in the general population), defined in Australia as a greater than 15% chance of getting heart disease in the next five years.

A heart check involves calculating how likely a person is to develop heart disease over a specific time period (five years in Australia). This involves gathering information from multiple factors including a person’s age, sex, smoking status, whether they have diabetes and their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Australia’s national guidelines recommend all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 35-74 have a heart check. But this new research found the “high risk” category starts much earlier than this.

Around 1.1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 18-24 year olds and 4.7% of 25-34 year olds were at high risk of heart disease. This is around the same as the proportion of non-Indigenous Australians aged 45-54 who are at high risk.

Too few Indigenous peoples are having heart checks. from http://www.shutterstock.com

Potential to prevent events through medication

Heart disease risk can be lowered through lifestyle changes, including giving up smoking, losing weight and exercising more, as well as using medications that lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Generally, all people who have heart disease and those at high risk should be prescribed preventative medications.

Yet this latest evidence shows only 53% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with existing heart disease and 42% of those at high risk were using cholesterol-lowering medications. We don’t know the exact reasons for this. It could be due to a number of things including people not getting a heart check in the first place, and not continuing to use medications when they have been prescribed.

We don’t know the exact number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receiving a heart check, but we do know overall numbers are low and it varies by region. Estimates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes found rates of heart checks ranged from about 3% of people in participating health centres in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia to around 56% in the Northern Territory.

This highlights the huge potential to prevent future heart attack and stroke in these communities by improving treatment in people at high risk.

What can we do?

These findings highlight multiple actions that can be taken to improve heart disease prevention. First, this new evidence suggests the age to start doing heart checks should be lowered in Australian guidelines. This decision would need to be jointly undertaken with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

GPs and nurses should be proactive in identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, providing heart and overall health checks, and following up with patients.

The Northern Territory is a good example. There, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples receiving a heart check more than doubled after improvements in reporting, monitoring and follow-up. Improving the rate of health checks for adolescents and young adults is particularly important so discussions and treatment decisions can take place early.

Programs aimed at prevention should also be co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, taking into account social and cultural barriers that impact access and ongoing treatment.

The good news is, we know heart attacks and strokes can be prevented and we have effective treatments to achieve this. Within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities there is huge potential to prevent heart attacks and stroke.

Many people don’t receive a heart check and could be at high risk without knowing it. Prevention starts with getting a heart check and continuing to use any medications prescribed to you by your doctor to lower your risk.

Part 2 Stroke Foundation  Press Release

 

Stroke Foundation has backed a call for urgent action to prevent stroke in Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

This follows today’s release of a world-first study by the Australian National University (ANU), highlighting the harrowing reality of stroke and heart attack risk in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The research found around one-third to a half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their 40s, 50s and 60s were at high risk of future heart attack or stroke. It also found risk increased substantially with age and starts earlier than previously thought.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said the research results were frightening.

“We knew the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community had a greater risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, but the rate was well above the non-indigenous population,” Ms McGowan said.

“Alarmingly, the study also found high levels of risk were occurring in people younger than 35.

“Steps must be taken immediately to increase stroke awareness and access to health checks through targeted action. Federal and state government must come together to address this issue.”

National guidelines currently recommend heart health and stroke risk screening be provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 35 and over. This study highlights the need for screening in much younger people.

Ms McGowan said there was one stroke every nine minutes in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were overrepresented in stroke statistics.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were twice as likely to be hospitalised with stroke and 1.4 times as likely to die from stroke than non-indigenous Australians.

“Stroke can be prevented, it can be treated and it can be beaten. We must act now to stem the tide of this devastating disease,’’ she said.

“Federal and State Government must do more to empower our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to take control of their health and prevent stroke and heart disease – we must deliver targeted education on what stroke is, how to prevent it and the importance of accessing treatment at the first sign of stroke.”

Ms McGowan said stroke could be prevented by managing your blood pressure and cholesterol, eating healthily, exercising, not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption

NACCHO welcomes feedback/comment:Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s