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Cardiac rehab saves lives, dollars: Heart Foundation

The Heart Foundation has called on the Victorian Government to improve referral to and participation in cardiac rehabilitation programs, following research that showed greater uptake of the intervention would save lives and reduce costs to the health system by $86.7 million.

The analysis, published by in the journal Heart, Lung and Circulation and conducted by the Heart Foundation and EY, delved into the social and economic impact of increasing participation in cardiac rehabilitation in Victoria.

It also revealed that if uptake was increased to 65 per cent over a 10-year period, hospitals would see 5133 fewer readmissions and the years of healthy life lost would be reduced by 37,565.

Heart Foundation Victoria chief executive Diana Heggie said the results highlight the need for more effective patient education and routine referral in hospitals, as well as reforms to boost uptake of cardiac rehabilitation.

Heggie said the main reasons patients are not attending cardiac rehabilitation is a lack of referral to and promotion of cardiac rehabilitation programs.

“Referral and promotion of cardiac rehabilitation is not standard practice in our hospitals and programs are not available or accessible to all patients, especially to those living in rural and remote areas," she said, adding while cardiac rehabilitation helps patients return to normal life and reduces their risk of having a repeat heart attack or cardiac event, only 30 per cent of patients currently attend programs in Australia.

“If you have a heart attack today, you will receive the highest quality treatment to help you survive that event. However, you aren’t guaranteed to get the support you need to recover and keep you out of hospital once you are discharged," Heggie said.

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