Medical experts say changes to the care of heart attack patients could save Australia's health system as much as $2 billion a year.
The Secondary Prevention Alliance has called for mandatory care plans for heart attack survivors as well as better patient support networks and referral services.
The organisation also recommended introduction of a national coronary heart disease register and a GP incentive scheme to improve care when patients leave hospital.
It is estimated the number of Australians dying from repeat heart attacks will surge by more than 40 per cent in the next six years. Repeat heart attacks cost the nation more than $8 billion in 2010.
Experts estimate a cohesive cardiac care approach could reduce repeat heart attacks by 25 per cent by 2025 - saving 1320 lives, leading to 4040 fewer hospital stays and saving the health system $2 billion a year.
Julie Redfern, associate professor of the George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney, said repeat heart attacks affected 25,000 people a year. ''We are proposing a more systematic approach to the care of people after they leave hospital with a heart attack,'' she said.
''The sad part is that we know what needs to be done to prevent these people having other heart attacks and it's not that complex. It's taking medicines and changing lifestyle but what we don't do very well is support people to facilitate those changes when they actually leave hospital.''
Interventional cardiologist Chris Hii, based at Calvary Hospital, said it was important for heart attack survivors to have a management plan after being discharged from hospital.
The patient would then be treated ''by various people, including the family doctor, the cardiac rehabilitation unit'' and others who could help prevent another attack, he said.
Dr Hii said heart attack survivors needed a lifelong management plan to prevent the risk of having another heart attack.
Dr Redfern said a co-ordinated national approach was needed.
''It's mostly about having a system in place where the GPs have a funding system to provide management plans around their heart disease and their ongoing management, offer a support system in their practice that make contact with people to make sure they come back and have regular visits that allows them to refer to appropriate people, check blood pressures and cholesterol regularly,'' she said.
Dr Redfern said such initiatives existed for conditions such as diabetes, asthma and breast cancer. ''We all need to come together and discuss this more broadly and work out with a plan, together with government, and changing policy about providing better care when people leave hospital because it will save the country money and it will prevent people dying.''
National Heart Foundation of Australia director of cardiovascular health Robert Grenfell said a national long-term approach to patient management was an important step in stopping heart attack survivors from falling through the cracks.
The call for the initiatives comes before the World Congress of Cardiology in Melbourne from May 4 to 7.
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