Page 2998 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 14 August 2013

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MS GALLAGHER: Heart attack survivors. Unfortunately, high cardiac survival rates mean that many more people are living with heart damage and disability as a result of having suffered a heart attack. The evidence suggests that people who have survived a heart attack are also at higher risk of having another. The statistics released by the Heart Foundation found that across Australia in 2011, 55,000 people were hospitalised because of a heart attack and that half of those were due to a repeat event.

Risks associated with repeat heart attacks include sudden cardiac death and worsening heart muscle function. So part of the job of providing the treatment and care for people surviving their heart attacks is to lower the risks of those people having subsequent heart attacks and work with them to change their lifestyles to ensure they have good cardiac health following their heart attack episodes.

Again, I think credit where credit is due: the health system gets a lot of negative press, but in this area I think it shows how hard the entire hospital system has worked with the non-government sector and regionally with New South Wales to make sure that if you are in our region and you are experiencing heart attack symptoms, you will get first-class care and treatment that you would not necessarily find in lots of other places in the world right here in Canberra provided by suitably qualified staff. The results speak for themselves.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Gentleman.

MR GENTLEMAN: Minister, what lessons have been learnt from these survivors that can provide actions for people to take to minimise their risk of cardiac events?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Gentleman for the question. Steps to minimise risk of heart attacks include lifestyle therapy, and most particularly the management of diet and exercise. We are doing a lot of work in collaboration with the Heart Foundation, the University of Canberra and GPs to increase the screening of patients in primary health care for heart risk factors and the management of those risk factors, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and smoking, and making sure that people are aware of the risks associated with those lifestyle factors.

We are also looking at making sure that all patients who have a heart attack are managed through appropriate medications, including blood thinners, blood pressure lowering agents and cholesterol lowering agents. With all of these interventions, the majority of which are within the control of the patients themselves, the chances of another heart attack are reduced by 70 per cent.

I think we should acknowledge that there have been great gains made in the treatment of people experiencing cardiac arrest and significant improvements in cardiac survival rates in the ACT, much better than we are seeing across the country.


MADAM SPEAKER: Before I call the next question, Mr Doszpot, could I acknowledge the presence in the gallery of the members of the Belconnen Probus Club who are here as guests of the parliamentary education group. I welcome you to our Assembly.

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