Central Coast named as one of Australia’s top 10 heart failure hot spots

A national snapshot targeting heart failure and heart disease, has named the Central Coast as one of Australia’s top 10 heart failure hot spots, with more than one in 30 residents living with debilitating cardiovascular disease.
The purpose of the snapshot, according to Prof Simon Stewart, Director of the Australian Catholic University’s Mary MacKillop Research Institute for Health Research, and snapshot co-author, was to spread focus on heart failure as it develops into “the greatest public health issue for Australia’s ageing population.”
The analysis, which coincides with the availability of a first-of-its kind treatment for heart failure, maps heart failure hot spots where cases are considered “high or very high” compared to the national average.
“Unless the diagnosis, treatment and care of heart failure patients improve, a tidal wave of ageing Australians is set to over-run the nation’s hospital and healthcare system,” Prof Stewart said.
The snapshot provides a breakdown of the burden the disease was placing on the Central Coast region and other areas named in the top 10.
According to the Central Coast Heart Failure Snapshot, 2017, 7,800 men on the Central Coast aged 45 and under have presented with cardiovascular disease, with 770 new cases diagnosed each year.
For Central Coast women aged 45 and under, 4,600 cases have been documented with 1,000 news cases each year.
The snapshot also broke down the hospital burden and associated health care costs for the disease with 1,000 men and 1,100 women being admitted to hospital per annum with a collective hospital stay of 7,200 days for men and 8,000 days for women.
According to the snapshot, total health care costs for men registered at $29.3m for men per annum and $24m for women.
Gosford based Cardiologist, Dr Tommy Wong, said Central Coast health practitioners were bracing for an influx in cardiovascular disease cases as the Coast’s population continues to expand, but also age.
“Cardiovascular disease is one of the top killers in all community, and I expect to see an increase in cardiovascular issues in the foreseeable future,” Dr Wong said.
According to Dr Wong, the Coast is also falling behind on the necessary preparations to ease the expected boom of heart health issues in the region.
“I think we can do better regarding cardiovascular disease on the Central Coast.
“Quite often, we see a patient too late and they end up having end stage heart failure.
“I believe with improved surveillance and prompt management, we can reduce the incidence of heart failure,” Dr Wong said.
Diagnosis of heart disease requires a clinical evaluation.
Most patients present with shortness of breath and leg swelling/pain.
Initial investigations will include an ECG, echocardiogram and chest X-Ray, all widely available on the Central Coast.
Despite clear channels of treatment and management of heart disease on the Coast, Dr Wong said that the rise of the ageing population, the Central Coast’s GP shortage and funding shortages for heart failure specific programs, were all having an impact on patient outcomes.
“These factors are a major worry, but to improve general health, an active lifestyle, a healthy diet and most importantly a good GP, will keep your risk factor significantly down,” Dr Wong said.
The snapshot of heart failure in Australia is timely, with a medicine known as Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan) to be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and made within reach for up to 200,000 Australians with a common and life-threatening form of heart failure on June 1.
Entresto works by relaxing the blood vessels, allowing for better blood flow, and to decrease counter-productive stress on the heart.
Entresto will cost eligible concessional patients just $6.30 and general patients $38.80 per pack.
Without a PBS subsidy, Entresto costs approximately $2,990 for a year’s supply.
Entresto also treats what is known as ‘systolic’ heart failure, which accounts for around half of all heart failure cases and occurs when the heart’s ability to contract is significantly weakened through damage (often after a heart attack) or general wear-and-tear.
Dr Wong said the cardiology community was very excited about the new medication and what the results could mean for the future of the Central Coast’s heart health.

Document, May 24
Snapshot of Heart Failure in Australia 2017
Interview, May 29
Dr Tommy Wong, Gosford Cardiologist
Dilon Luke, Journalist

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