Summary

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

Five priority areas comprising 21 measures were developed to monitor the progress of the project. In this sixth national report, 14 measures in the earlier reports are updated. Measure 1.3 could not be updated as newer data are not available to report. Measure 5.4 has not been reported since the 2018–19 report due to issues with data quality. Data for the remaining 5 measures are under development and expected to be included in future reports.

Key findings

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 Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) health assessments, cardiac-related diagnostic MBS services and the recommended intervention following hospitalisation for a severe heart attack has been increasing.
  • The mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling. 

But challenges remain in some areas:

  • Indigenous Australians with suspected or confirmed cardiac disease are less likely to be reviewed by a specialist than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Indigenous Australians are less likely than non-Indigenous Australians to receive the recommended intervention following hospitalisation for a severe heart attack.
  • The mortality rate from cardiovascular disease is falling, but is still higher than non-Indigenous Australians.

Better Cardic Care Key Findings 

Priority area 1: Early cardiovascular risk assessment and management

Indigenous Australians who received a Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) health assessment
31% in 2019-20
 
3% in 2004-05

Priority area 2: Timely diagnosis of heart disease and heart failure

In 2019-20, Indigenous Australians with suspected or confirmed cardiac disease were less likely to be reviewed by a specialist than non-Indigenous Australians (53% and 68% respectively)

Priority area 3: Guideline-based therapy for acute coronary syndrome

Indigenous Australians hospitalised for severe heart attack who received percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) 

74% in 2018-19

28% in 2006-07

In 2018-19, Indigenous Australians were about 10% less likely than non-Indigenous Australians to receive PCI

Priority area 4: Optimisation of health status and provision of ongoing preventive care

Proportion who made MBS claims for a follow-up service within 12 months after a cardiovascular theraputic procedure that occured in 2018-19 was about 30% higher for Indigenous Australians than non-Indigenous Australia aged 65 and over (77% and 58% respectively)

ARFPriority area 5: Strengthening the diagnosis, notification and follow-up of rheumatic heart disease

In 2019, about 4,100 Indigenous Australians were prescribed benzathine benzylpenicillin G every 21 or 28 days, of whom 37% received 80% or more of their required doses

Summary measures: Hospitalisation and mortality

Mortality rate due to cardiac conditions for Indigenous Australians fell by 28% 

205 per 100,000 population in 2006

148 per 100,000 population in 2019 

In 2019, the mortality rate for Indigenous Australians was 1.6 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians

Note: All rates shown are age-standardised,except for those shown in priority areas 4 and 5.