Public health

National action plan revealed for heart disease and stroke

A national action plan to tackle cardiovascular disease and stroke has been released by the National Heart Foundation of Australia and Stroke Foundation.

The National Strategic Action Plan for Heart Disease and Stroke sets out four priority areas: Prevention and Early Detection, Diagnosis and Treatment, Support and Care, and Research, with targets for improvement within five years

The Plan is intended to be a roadmap to implement interventions that will tackle two of the major causes of preventable death in Australia, according to its developers.

The plan includes 11 major objectives, each with several action points, such as updating the Absolute Cardiovascular Risk Assessment Guidelines, and encouraging awareness of health checks for atrial fibrillation  in the prevention and early detection priority area.

Objectives in the diagnosis and treatment priority area include improving equity in cardiac treatment and care through national standards, improving the delivery of emergency stroke treatment to rural, and remote Australians through telehealth, establishing standardised national, pre-hospital, time-critical responses to heart attack and stroke and implementing a national endovascular thrombectomy and thrombolysis plan. The roadmap also calls for improved access to specialised stroke units  and TIA clinics

For support and care, the Action Plan calls for improves access to cardiac and stroke rehabilitation services and better post-discharge support services for people with heart disease and stroke, and their carers.

For cardiovascular research, the Plan calls for better use of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and plans to tackle identified gaps in existing heart disease and stroke research

It also urges progress on National Clinical Quality Registries for heart and stroke, the development of a National Cardiac Rehabilitation Dataset and a National Cardiovascular Data Platform, as well as a national approach to collection, monitoring and linkage of ‘time to treatment’ data.

The authors of the Action Plan say it will require adequate funding and tailored implementation by individual state and territory and tailored to address local needs.

They recommend the establishment of an Implementation Advisory Group comprising leaders in the heart and stroke field, work to coordinate efforts and drive the delivery of the Action Plan.

“The Advisory Group should be established with experts in the heart and stroke field, including the National Heart Foundation of Australia, Stroke Foundation, state and federal governments and key primary health care and other relevant stakeholders as mentioned above,” they write.

“Implementation may include developing an interventional timeline to prioritise actions, and identifying the sector area responsible for leading the implementation of each action. Key implementation partners would be determined, along with an implementation plan outlining how to achieve the overall objectives.”

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