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 (First Nations) people.

Five priority areas comprising 21 measures were developed to monitor the progress of the project. In this eighth national report, 12 measures in the earlier reports are updated and 5 new measures are included. New measures included for the first time are from the National Integrated Health Services Information (NIHSI) on ongoing preventive care and medication adherance for patients discharged from hospital with cardiac condtions (Measures 3.4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4). 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.

Figure 1: Summary infographic

This infographic highlights the key findings of the report by each priority area. For priority area 1: early cardiovascular risk assessment and management, the proportion of First Nations people who received a Medicare Benefits Schedule health assessment rose from 4% in 2006–07 to 24% in 2021–22. For priority area 2: timely diagnosis of heart disease and heart failure, the proportion of First Nations people with suspected or confirmed cardiac disease who were reviewed by a cardiologist was 25% in 2021-22. For priority area 3: guideline-based therapy for acute coronary syndrome, the age-standardised proportion of First Nations people hospitalised for severe heart attack who received percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) rose from 28% in 2006–07 to 70% in 2020–21. In 2020-21, First Nations people were about 14% less likely than non-Indigenous Australians to receive PCI. For priority area 4: optimisation of health status and provision of ongoing preventive care, the proportion of First Nations people who received chronic disease management follow-up services within 12 months after discharge from hospital with a cardiac condition rose from 42% in 2010-11 to 64% in 2018-19. For priority area 5: diagnosis, notification and follow-up of rheumatic heart disease, in 2021, about 4,800 First Nations people were prescribed benzathine benzylpenicillin G every 21 or 28 days, of whom 31% received 80% or more of their required doses. For the summary measures: hospitalisation and mortality, the age-standardised mortality rate due to cardiac conditions for First Nations people fell by 35% from 205 per 100,000 population in 2006 to 134 per 100,000 population in 2021, but in 2021, the age-standardised mortality rate for First Nations people was 1.5 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.