CVD is Australia's Biggest Killer

CVD is 

Biggest Killer
By Roma Cecere
Published in ITK OCT/NOV 2015 Issue 44


According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cardiovascular diseases (CVD) account for most global non-communicable disease (NCD) deaths, around 17.5 million people annually.

By 2025, Australia, along with other WHO Member States, agreed in 2013 to reduce avoidable NCD and the number of premature deaths by 25%. The UN General Assembly will convene a third high-level meeting on NCDs in 2018 to assess national progress in attaining these targets.

In 2015, Australia sets targets to measure progress on the 2010 baselines reported in the "Global status report on non-communicable diseases 2014" . Most cardiovascular diseases are preventable by addressing behavioural risk factors - smoking, poor diet, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and drinking too much alcohol.

CVD kills one Australian every 12 minutes. In 2012/13, CVD was the main cause for 518,563 hospitalisations and played an additional role in another 680,000 hospitalisations. Lower socioeconomic groups, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those living in remote areas had the highest rate of hospitalisation and death resulting from CVD in Australia . 90% of Australian adults have at least one risk factor for CVD.

The Australian Heart Foundation has analysed and mapped the hotspots for CVD .

The data shows Australians living outside capital cities are at significantly greater risk (26%) from the nation’s biggest killer. 25% of people living in regional and rural areas have the disease compared to 20% in metropolitan areas. This data doesn’t include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are believed to have even higher rates of risk.

Reducing the social and economic burden of CVD is a global challenge. WHO says primary care and population-wide interventions can be implemented to reduce CVD. These include ‘comprehensive tobacco control policies and strategies to reduce harmful use of alcohol ‘ . At an individual level, health-care interventions must be targeted at those with high risk, such as hypertension sufferers. Including non-physician health workers, such as pharmacists, is a practical approach in challenging economic settings. Secondary prevention of CVD in those with established disease, treatment is possible with aspirin, beta-blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and statins .

The benefits of these interventions are largely independent. Nevertheless, when combined with smoking cessation, nearly 75% of recurrent vascular events may be prevented. Currently there are major gaps in the implementation of these interventions, particularly at the primary health care level. Dr Kevin McNamara, Adjunct Researcher at Monash University says extensive previous research has shown community pharmacy potential to undertake multiple CVD risk factor assessments, estimate overall CVD risk, identify at-risk individuals , refer at risk individuals to GP’s, and achieve high rates of referral

As one of Australia’s most trusted professionals, pharmacists are ideally positioned to assess the key risk factors, with the potential to help patients through intervention.


‘The Commonwealth will make available up to $1.26 billion… for evidence-based, patient-focused professional pharmacy programmes and services over the Term [of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement] ’

This agreement will provide even more support than previous years to deliver professional services. The Government, though, has stated all future programs must show positive health outcomes if they’re to remain funded. GuildCare already provides program data to the Guild to show program effectiveness.

Funded by the Heart Foundation, Dr. Kevin McNamara is spearheading Australian research into how Australian pharmacies can implement CVD risk screening programs to ensure high quality and integration with general practice. GuildLink is collaborating with the research to broaden its programs to support CVD screening in Pharmacy. Dr. McNamara says all research stakeholders aim to deliver better health outcomes for Australians.

Unlike other programs, GuildCare helps pharmacies navigate professional service delivery with one seamless software solution. It’s easy to use. GuildCare’s Patient Services enables pharmacists to monitor, screen and document patient information including measurements for Blood Pressure, INR and Lipids. A Smoking Cessation module is currently in pilot and will soon be released. GuildCare’s Health Check combines point of care tests from Patient Services to provide a holistic screening program, capturing patient information including lifestyle and general health. It provides prepopulated reports for patients and their GPs.

GuildCare enables closer professional collaboration with other health care professionals.

The GuildCare Support Team can assist with any questions you have in becoming a subscriber.
Training and technical suppurt is also available.

Simply email or call 1300 64 7 492 (8.30 am - 7pm AEDT weekdays).