Budget to battle stroke and heart disease burden

A further stride forward has been made in efforts to halt and address two of Australia’s biggest killers – heart disease and stroke.

Further to yesterday’s 2019-2020 Federal Budget, Australian Health Minister the Hon Greg Hunt MP today confirmed $4 million will be invested in combatting the diseases. Newly funded initiatives will raise awareness of the signs of stroke, help those at risk of stroke and heart disease, and help survivors live well.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan welcomed this investment in the future health and quality of life of thousands of Australians.

“Stroke is a devastating disease and its impact on individuals and families continues to rise as our population grows and ages,” Ms McGowan said.

“There are 56,000 strokes each year in Australia – that is one every nine minutes. Disturbingly, we are on track for one stroke every four minutes by 2050.

“Today’s announcement is another stride forward in the right direction to ease the burden of stroke on the community, health system and economy.”

In particular, Ms McGowan has applauded the Government’s $800,000 investment to educate the community about the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke, saying this will save lives and reduce disability as a result of stroke.

“Stroke is always a time-critical medical emergency. After a stroke 1.9 million brain cells die each minute. The faster treatment is sought, the better the chance of a good outcome,” she said.

“Yet currently, just 36 percent of Australians with stroke arrive at hospital within the 4.5 hour window for blood clot dissolving treatment. Why is this number so small? Because not enough Australians know the signs of stroke and to call an ambulance.”

The Stroke Foundation aims to ensure someone in every household knows the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke. F.A.S.T. stands for:

Face – check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

Arms – Can they lift both arms?

Speech – Is their speech slurred. Do they understand you?

Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call triple zero (000) straight away.

Today’s announcements were reflective of gaps identified in the development of the National Action Plan for Heart and Stroke. Funded by the Federal Government, Stroke Foundation is partnering with Heart Foundation to deliver the plan.

Ms McGowan commended the Federal Government for its strong focus on health in the budget, but also recognised there was much more to be done.

“An investment in stroke is an investment in a healthier Australia. I call on all parties to come together and support action on stroke, for Australians now and into the future.”

Today’s funding package to tackle heart disease and stroke builds on previously announced budget commitments:

1. $220 million mission for cardiovascular health

2. $150 million for stem cell research

3. Medicare item for heart health checks

It also builds on the Federal Labor Party’s commitment, if elected, to deliver an $11.9 million national telestroke network.

/Public Release. View in full here.