Australians better supported to live well

Stroke Foundation has today welcomed the Australian Government and Federal Labor Party’s announcement, if elected, of a new Medicare item for health checks so doctors can better prevent, detect and manage stroke and heart disease.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said the investment in comprehensive health checks would help more Australians live well.

“More than four million Australians are living with cardiovascular disease – stroke and heart disease – and there are more than 43,000 deaths a year as a result, many of them preventable,” Ms McGowan said.

“In fact, one third of chronic diseases can be prevented, and conditions share many risk factors, meaning a Medicare item is an important step forward in addressing the burden of stroke and heart disease, as well as chronic disease more broadly.

“By investing in comprehensive health checks, the Australian Government has an opportunity to save lives and reduce avoidable hospital admissions through early diagnosis, and ongoing management.”

Modifiable risk factors for stroke, heart disease and broader chronic diseases include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, smoking and physical inactivity.

Ms McGowan said Stroke Foundation and fellow health groups had long called for Government recognition of comprehensive health checks, including combining absolute risk assessment for heart disease and stroke, a type 2 diabetes check and a kidney disease test.

“Investment in prevention today generates health dividends tomorrow and into the future,” she said.

“Research shows for every dollar invested in prevention within Australia there is a return of $14, in addition to the return of the original investment, back to the wider health and social economy.

“It is time for action on stroke, heart disease and chronic disease prevention. A cross party approach is needed to ensure all Australian have the opportunity to live well.”

Facts on heart disease and stroke – cardiovascular disease (CVD)

More than 4 million Australians live with CVD..

CVD is a major cause of avoidable hospital admissions.

CVD is the most costly disease group at $8.8 billion, accounting for 10.4 percent of direct healthcare expenditure, including $4.5 billion in hospital admissions and $1.65 billion in pharmaceuticals.

CVD is forecast to remain the most expensive disease group, projected to rise to more than $22 billion in 2032-33.

CVD is largely preventable.

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