The Better Cardiac Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People project is an initiative of the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council that aims to reduce deaths and ill health from cardiac conditions among Indigenous Australians.

A set of 21 measures were developed to monitor the success of the project. Data are available to report on many, but not all, of the measures. This report—the second national report—includes information for 11 measures for which updated data were available.

For some of the measures, rates for Indigenous Australians were better than or similar to those for non-Indigenous Australians. Based on age-standardised rates:

  • Indigenous Australians were just as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to claim cardiac-related diagnostic items under the Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) in 2013–15 (both 3.9%)
  • among people aged 35 and over, the in-hospital death rate of hospitalised events for acute myocardial infarction (AMI; commonly referred to as a heart attack) was similar for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in 2009–14 (4.4% and 4.0%, respectively)
  • Indigenous Australians with a cardiac condition were more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to claim a Team Care Arrangement (24% and 13%, respectively) or a General Practitioner Management Plan (27% and 16%, respectively) under the MBS in 2014–15.

For other measures, Indigenous Australians had higher rates of ill health and death from cardiac conditions, and lower rates of in-hospital treatment services. For example:

  • Indigenous Australians were 1.9 times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to be hospitalised for cardiac conditions in 2011–14, and 1.6 times as likely to die from cardiac conditions in 2009–2013 (based on age-standardised rates)
  • among Indigenous adults aged 18 and over, 52% of hospitalised events for a severe heart attack—that is, a ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI)—were treated with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) to restore blood flow to a blocked coronary artery in 2011–14, compared with 75% among non-Indigenous adults (based on age-standardised rates)
  • in 2011–2014, the incidence rate of acute rheumatic fever among Indigenous Australians was 59 per 100,000 population, compared with 0.2 per 100,000 for other Australians.

Some measures suggested improvements over time, while others showed either no change or no clear trend. Based on age-standardised rates:

  • between 2004–05 and 2014–15, the proportion of Indigenous Australians who received an MBS item 715 health assessment increased from 3% to 25%
  • the proportion of hospitalised STEMI events that were treated by PCI more than doubled for Indigenous adults between 2004–05 and 2013–14, from 26% to 57%
  • between 1998 and 2013, the death rate due to cardiac conditions for Indigenous Australians fell by 43%, and the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous narrowed by 47%
  • between 2004–05 and 2013–14, hospitalisation rates for cardiac conditions remained relatively stable for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, with ranges of 23%–25% and 13%–14%, respectively.