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Chronic heart failure: time to recognise this major public health problem

Henry Krum and Simon Stewart
Med J Aust 2006; 184 (4): 147-148.
Published online: 20 February 2006

The Canberra Heart Study findings are a wake-up call to those unaware of the extent of the condition

Chronic heart failure is a major and growing public health issue that affects all Western countries. Accordingly, many countries (eg, Scotland1 and Sweden2) systematically monitor its population prevalence and overall impact on the health care system. However, public awareness of the condition remains low.3 Unfortunately, in Australia, apart from sporadic initiatives such as the NSW Chronic Care Collaborative, heart failure remains the “Cinderella” of health issues — hardly registering on the radar of key health care providers, regulators, relevant government bodies and the general public. For example, less than one in five eligible patients receives specialist heart failure management after hospitalisation for acute heart failure.4 Undoubtedly this is at least partly explained by the fact that we do not know the true magnitude of the problem in Australia. It is time for us to recognise heart failure as a major public health issue that cripples hundreds of thousands of Australians and places a substantial burden on the health care system.

  • Henry Krum1
  • Simon Stewart2

  • 1 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and Department of Medicine, Monash University and Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA.

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