Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have higher rates of cardiac conditions, and lower access to health services aimed at preventing and treating these conditions, than non-Indigenous Australians. The Better Cardiac Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People—a project supported by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council—aims to reduce mortality and morbidity from cardiac conditions by increasing access to services, better managing risk factors and treatment, and by improving the coordination of care.
This is the first national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures that were developed to monitor the success of the project. It includes information for 4 full measures and 8 part measures for which national data were available, and outlines the data development work that is required to report on all 21 measures.
The indicators provide examples of higher rates of mortality and morbidity from cardiac conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and lower rates of in-hospital treatment services, than for other Australians:
- The age-standardised mortality rate for cardiac conditions for Indigenous Australians in 2008–2012 was 212 per 100,000 compared with 133 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous Australians.
- The age-standardised proportion of people who presented to a hospital with a severe heart attack (that is, a STEMI), and had a procedure to open a blocked or narrowed artery (that is, a PCI) in 2010–13 was 46% for Indigenous Australians and 70% for non-Indigenous Australians.
Access to cardiac prevention and treatment services for Indigenous Australians varied by state and by region:
- For example, the proportion of Indigenous people who presented to a hospital with a STEMI and had a PCI in 2010–13 ranged from 21% in the Northern Territory to 62% in Western Australia, and from 29% in Very remote areas to 64% in Major cities.
Over time, mortality from cardiac conditions for Indigenous Australians decreased significantly and access to cardiac care improved:
- The age-standardised mortality rate for cardiac conditions for Indigenous Australians decreased by 41% between 1998 and 2012, from 347 to 215 per 100,000.
- The age-standardised proportion of Indigenous people who presented to a hospital with a STEMI and had a PCI increased from 25% in 2004–05 to 46% in 2012–13.
There are 17 Better Cardiac Care measures that require further data development to enable full reporting. The required improvements include linkage between data sets for information on post-hospital care and mortality, more details on hospital treatment, better coverage of Rheumatic Heart Disease registers, and new data collections on services provided by general practitioners and cardiologists.