New program helps GPs and patients better manage heart failure

General practitioners across Australia are invited to take part in a new program aimed at improving the diagnosis and management of heart failure in Australian adults.

The Heart Failure: taking an active role program, by NPS MedicineWise and the Heart Foundation, will be visiting 9,000 general practitioners nationally, including in rural and remote areas, to support healthcare professionals to implement best practice from heart failure guidelines updated by the Heart Foundation and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ) in 2018.

Heart failure affects about 480,000 Australians and contributed to one in eight deaths in 2019. It’s estimated that more than 60,000 Australians are diagnosed with heart failure every year, and survival rates are low. Only half of people diagnosed with chronic heart failure are alive five years after diagnosis.

As part of the program, GP practices are encouraged to book an in-person, group or virtual visit from a trained NPS MedicineWise independent Educational Visitor to receive up-to date clinical guidance, support and resources. This includes information on the recommended use of echocardiogram to diagnose heart failure and the use of effective medicines that improve survival and improve quality of life.

Early diagnosis of heart failure and effective management in primary care prolongs lives, keeps people out of hospital, and improves quality of life. Practice gaps in diagnosis and treatment have been identified and the program aims to address them and increase the awareness, confidence and knowledge of health professionals.

Heart failure is a complex clinical syndrome, where the heart doesn’t pump blood to the rest of the body as well as it should. The most common causes of heart failure include coronary heart disease, previous heart attack, high blood pressure and cardiomyopathy.

An echocardiogram is the single most useful and important investigation to confirm diagnosis, classify and guide management for heart failure. Despite this, some GPs may hesitate referring patients for an echocardiogram and may not be confident interpreting and acting on the findings.

A video has been released introducing the program and highlighting new resources and educational activities.

NPS MedicineWise CEO Adj A/Prof Steve Morris says NPS MedicineWise wants to support healthcare professionals to make a positive difference for people with heart failure by providing evidence-based guidance and support, delivered through facilitated educational visits, webinars and other resources.

“We’re also providing education and support to consumers to help them better manage their condition, reduce hospital admissions and to improve their quality of life,” he says.

Heart Foundation Group CEO Adj Prof John Kelly says GPs are ideally placed to identify patients with heart failure and provide effective life-saving treatments and care.

“This program gives us an opportunity to reduce the increasing burden of heart failure on our health system and help people living with heart failure to stay alive, well and out of hospital,” Professor Kelly said.

Using GP data and heart failure hospitalisation rates over time, the impact of the program will be evaluated to identify how heart failure is being managed and treated against quality measures set out in the heart failure guidelines.

This national educational program Heart Failure: taking an active role includes:

The program will aim to:

  • Increase health professional awareness, confidence and knowledge of evidence-based diagnosis and management of heart failure
  • Improve the diagnosis and management of patients with suspected heart failure in primary care through the use of recommended medical tests
  • Improve health outcomes of patients with heart failure
  • Improve the use of medicines for patients with heart failure

Visit the NPS MedicineWise website for more information and resources for health professionals and consumers from the Heart Failure: taking an active role program.


Media contact

Matthew Harris, NPS MedicineWise Communications & PR adviser: (02) 8217 9229, 0419 618 365 or [email protected]