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“With a bit more digging by the heart nurse, we got into diet and that’s where a lot of the alarm bells started ringing,” he said.
“I used to eat, fundamentally, protein. For breakfast, I used to have two eggs and bacon, which I’ve now stopped. If I wasn’t doing this program, I’m probably still be eating the same food.”
Medibank’s head of health strategy and services, Catherine Keating, said rehabilitation was vital. “For people who participate in cardiac rehab, we see a 42 per cent reduction in future hospitalisations.
We also see a 30 per cent reduction in mortality or death,” she said. Medibank data reveals that cardiac rehabilitation rate for its rural customers is less than half that of those who live in cities.
“In regional Australia, there is a higher proportion of people who have heart disease and other conditions, yet they have less access to services, which creates a double whammy. So we are trying to reduce that inequity of access,” Dr Keating said.
“This type of program has become much more relevant during COVID because we know people are really needing to access care into their homes.
We also know Australians who have chronic diseases like heart disease are at risk of more serious symptoms of the disease if they contract it.”
The Australian Medical Association has urged people to maintain regular health check-ups, saying patients are not seeing their GPs at the same preCOVID levels.
“Telehealth is absolutely allowing continuity of care, but it’s crucial that patients are not putting off having their blood tests, their new spots examined and preventive screening tests,” president Tony Bartone said.
“All of this will signiﬁcantly come to a head sometime down the track when we ﬁnally come out of the COVID19 restrictions to the point where we are allowed to undertake usual care. You can only run this system so long before you get unintended consequences and an increase in morbidity.”
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