Heart disease, stroke and vascular disease are the primary causes of ill health in Australia, accounting for 38% of all deaths and 22 percent of all disease. These chronic diseases also account for the largest proportion of Australian health system costs.
In recognition of this, the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing arranged in 2004 to have a National Heart, Stroke and Vascular Health Strategies Group provide a blueprint for improving the cardiovascular health of Australians. This blueprint was intended for organisations, such as CBHS, to drive improvements in health services and deliver better health outcomes through the National Health Priority Initiative in Cardiovascular Health.
The overarching aim of the strategy is to improve the cardiovascular health status of Australians to bring it in-line with the best in the world (currently the burden is proportionately greater than that in many other first world countries.)
In broad terms, programs using the strategy aim to:
- Progressively reduce the inequalities in health outcomes associated with heart, stroke and vascular disease, particularly in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders;
- Improve the care and management of heart, stroke, and vascular disease;
- Support the circulation and uptake of optimal preventative practices;
- Promote consistency in preventative practices; and
- Enhance the role of the individual in managing their own cardiovascular health.
CBHS Chronic Disease Management Programs
Under the guidelines of the National Health Priority in Cardiovascular Health, CBHS recognises the significant impact chronic diseases have on the quality of life for its members. With this in mind, there are a number of chronic disease management plans (CDMPs) in place, which aim to promote education and wellbeing among members most at risk.
Our vascular management plans include:
- Healthy Heart Program;
- Risk Factor Management Program;
- Integrated Care Program;
- Congestive Heart Failure Program;
- Peripheral Vascular Health Program;
- Bone Health Program (Osteoporosis); and
- Diabetes Action Program (prevention).
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Program
CBHS works alongside specialist clinical providers to deliver these phone-based self-management programs, allowing members to make better decisions regarding their lifestyle and disease management. Programs cover everything from early symptom recognition to gaining access to medical care.
Do CDMPs cost?
CBHS’s Chronic Disease Management Plans are provided free of charge for any members who have hospital or package cover for the duration of the program, however personalised CDMPs that include professionals such as personal trainers may incur some fees (Check your extras limits and benefits).
Are CDMPs available to anyone?
If you have an existing chronic disease or have been deemed “high risk”, you can be invited by CBHS to participate in a CDMP best suited to your needs.
Over the course of four to eight months (series’ are usually six months, however the length may vary), a series of phone-based conversations will take place with a qualified clinician to tailor a personalised, individual management program that includes what signs to look out for, medication management, screening and monitoring, pain management, and pain triggers. Working collaboratively with clinicians, a CDMP will support small, achievable changes to maximise lifestyle and achieve long-term health for our members.
What’s “high risk”?
The top risk factors for chronic disease are:
- Aged 65 or older;
- Family history of heart disease;
- High cholesterol;
- High blood pressure;
- Excessive drinking;
- Poor nutrition or dietary habits;
- Smoking; and
- Sedentary lifestyle.
Males are at greater risk than women, although women are twice as likely to die following a heart attack as men.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people are at considerably higher risk than the rest of the Australian population.
What are the benefits of a vascular health program?
Participants have access to trained professionals that can help them to self-manage their disease more effectively. As a result, members of these programs tend to have fewer hospital admissions.
A well-run CDMP can minimise the impact of disease in terms of day-to-day life. This is done by providing clear information and ongoing support when working towards specific health goals.
CDMPs are designed to complement your existing treatment program.
Should I ask about participating in a program?
If you discover any symptoms of vascular disease, get in contact with CBHS today and enquire about a Chronic Disease Management Plan. Symptoms include:
- Intermittent pain, cramping, muscle fatigue (often in the legs);
- Worsening pain during exercise;
- Easing of pain during rest;
- Particularly cold parts of the body;
- Muscle Weakness;
- Pins and Needles;
- Blue or purple tinge to the skin;
- Wounds that won’t heal; or
- Blackened areas of the skin.
Seek medical help immediately if you have symptoms such as:
- Chest pain;
- Loss of consciousness;
- Sudden confusion;
- Severe headache; or
- Shortness of breath.
What if I’m not deemed at risk and I haven’t noticed any symptoms?
If you’re not at high risk and you haven’t experienced any signs of vascular disease, you should still take your vascular health seriously. While there is no need to take part in a CDMP until you fit into one of the above categories, you can still take measures to ensure your risk of heart, stroke and vascular disease stays low.
A healthy diet is just one way you can keep your risk of chronic disease low. Things to eat include:
- Fish - Omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in fish can provide numerous cardiovascular benefits, including reducing blood triglycerides, reducing blood clotting, and regulating heart rhythms;
- Tomatoes - Lycopene, a plant nutrient found in tomatoes, has been linked with reducing the risk of heart disease. Other foods that contain lycopene include pink grapefruit and watermelon;
- Healthy fats - A balance of natural monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can reduce the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Healthy fats include extra virgin olive oil and nuts;
- Colourful fruit and veg - Richly coloured fruits and vegetables contain lots of helpful plant nutrients known to help against heart disease and other health conditions;
- Chocolate - A small amount of dark chocolate is considered healthy for the heart, so long as it is limited; and
- Fibre - Soluble fibre helps lower cholesterol levels, and can be found in foods such as oats, bran, fruit and legumes.
Foods to avoid include: salt, caffeine, sugars and saturated fat.
To complement your healthy eating, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical exercise should be performed five days a week, 20 minutes of vigorous exercise done three times a week, and light exercise made part of your daily plan.