Heart disease medicines improving life expectancy

A new report on cardiovascular disease (CVD) released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare underscores the importance of medicines in combating heart disease and keeping patients out of hospital, Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said today. 

Cardiovascular disease: Australian facts 2011, published today, shows medicines are effectively treating or preventing heart disease in Australian patients.

“With appropriate medication patients with CVD, or those at risk of the disease, can improve their quality of life and increase their life expectancy,” the report says.

“The use of cardiovascular medicines and the adoption of lifestyle measures, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet, can reduce important CVD risk factors such as high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure.”

Dr Shaw said the study highlights the enormous benefit that cardiovascular medicines are delivering to ordinary Australian patients.

“This report shows that cardiovascular disease causes the most deaths in Australia and is our most costly disease, but also that medicines are contributing to a decline in death rates,” Dr Shaw said.

“One of the key reasons that Australians are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease today compared with 20 years ago is the range of cardiovascular medicines that the medicines industry has bought to market over that time”, Dr Shaw said.

“This is a classic example of how new technologies developed by the medicines industry have resulted in people living longer, healthier lives.

“You have a far greater chance of surviving cardiovascular disease today than you did 20 years ago. That is due in part to the investment the medicines industry has made in cardiovascular medicines and in part to the preparedness of successive governments to invest in such medicines”.

The study found that half of the annual cardiovascular disease expenditure of $5.9 billion per annum is spent on patients admitted to hospital, but that hospital stays are shortening.

“CVD patients are staying in hospital for shorter periods and the rate of deaths in hospital is declining,” it says.

The report also found that in 2008 over 137 million prescriptions for cardiovascular diseases medicines were supplied to the community. Blood-pressure-lowering medicines were the most commonly dispensed, followed by lipid-modifying medicines and anti-thrombotics.

Cardiovascular disease Australian facts 2011 is available at: http://aihw.gov.au/


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