The Better Cardiac Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People project is an initiative of the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council. It aims to reduce deaths and ill health from cardiac conditions among Indigenous Australians.
Five priority areas consisting of 21 measures were developed to monitor the progress of the project. In this fourth national report, data are reported for 14 measures. Thirteen measures reported in the earlier 3 reports are updated and results are also included for one new measure (1.2). Two previously reported measures (1.3 and 5.4) could not be reported due to issues with data availability (1.3) and data quality (5.4). Data for the remaining 5 measures not yet reported are currently under development and are expected to be included in future reports.
Some progress has been made toward better cardiac care for Indigenous Australians. The level of access for cardiac-related health services has improved. The proportion of Indigenous Australians who received: Medicare-funded health assessments, cardiac-related diagnostic services under Medicare arrangements and the recommended intervention following hospitalisation for a severe heart attack has been increasing over time. The mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling among the Indigenous population.
But there are still challenges in some areas: Indigenous Australians with suspected or confirmed cardiac disease are less likely to be reviewed by a specialist compared with non-Indigenous Australians; Indigenous Australians are less likely than non-Indigenous Australians to receive the recommended intervention following hospitalisation for a severe heart attack, and the incidence and recurrent rates of acute rheumatic fever among Indigenous Australians is much higher than among non-Indigenous Australians. In addition, while the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease is falling, it is still much higher among Indigenous Australians than non-Indigenous Australians.
Figure 1: Better Cardiac Care key findings
Note: All rates shown are age-standardised, except for rates shown in priority areas 4 and 5.