Stroke is a major cause of death, yet there is still no national plan.
Stroke is still the second biggest cause of death in Australia and incurs crippling health care costs but continues to languish in terms of national health action priorities according to National Stroke Foundation.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's new report, Cardiovascular Disease: Australian Facts 2011 found that cardiovascular disease in total was responsible for more deaths than any other disease group (34 per cent) and cost $5.9 billion in 2004-05.
Stroke accounted for 19 per cent of all deaths in the cardiovascular disease group and, according to the report, stroke claimed nearly 9000 lives in 2007 alone. The most recent figures available show that 82 per cent of people who have a stroke are left with a disability.
"These figures confirm the ongoing reality that stroke is a major killer in our community yet there's no national action plan to reduce the rate of this disease," said foundation CEO Dr Erin Lalor.
Lalor said while welcoming the report's findings that death rates for stroke had fallen, with an ageing population and risk factors including obesity on the increase, more needed to be done now to prevent the burden of the disease growing, community suffering increasing, and hospital costs escalating.
The report also acknowledged the shortcomings of its data about the prevalence of stroke, with its data drawn from two studies conducted in 1989-1990 and 1999.
"In the absence of up-to-date figures on the incidence and prevalence of stroke in the community, it's difficult to accurately respond to community need, or to measure the success of prevention, awareness and treatment programs in a holistic manner," Lalor said.
Lalor said despite established research that showed patients who were treated in a specialised stroke unit when they presented at hospital with stroke had better outcomes, the AIHW report showed that in 2007-08 only half of the 34,945 stroke hospitalisations in Australia were treated in a stroke unit.
"The treatment of stroke patients in Australia remains inadequate, with processes known to save lives from death and disability not used in enough cases," she said.
"The AIHW report shows there is an urgent need for federal and state governments to devote greater focus to stroke prevention, research and care to reduce the impact of Australia's second biggest killer.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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