Date published: 
26 February 2019
Media type: 
Media release
General public

The Liberal National Government is launching a comprehensive research effort to tackle the nation’s two biggest killers - heart disease and stroke - with an unprecedented $220 million for a 10-year Mission for Cardiovascular Health.

The funding, awarded under the Government’s landmark Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), will support Australian researchers to make game-changing discoveries, develop a global biotech industry and enable the implementation of changes in healthcare.

Cardiovascular disease is the underlying cause of 43,500 deaths in Australia.

One Australian dies of cardiovascular disease every 12 minutes, with one Australian experiencing a heart attack or stroke every five minutes.

In 2017 alone, more than 100,000 Australians experienced a heart attack or stroke and cardiovascular disease was the underlying cause of 43,500 deaths in Australia.

The figures are telling but they don’t convey the tragedy of heart disease and strokes for individuals, their families and loved ones.

The Mission for Cardiovascular Health aim to improve health outcomes through prevention strategies, earlier detection and improved outcomes for patients suffering a heart attack or stroke.

It will aim to reduce hospitalisations, develop clinical trials and new drug therapies, use the unique DNA of a patient to develop new therapies and also look into why people wo don’t lead a unhealthy lifestyle or have a genetic cause suffer heart attacks.

The Mission will be overseen by an appointed expert advisory panel chaired by Professor Gemma Figtree and will have a broad scope.

Open and contestable grant opportunities will stimulate new and emerging research to address heart disease and stroke.

This Mission includes the recently announced $20 million in funding to help defeat congenital heart disease by better understanding genetic causes and treatment options through the the HeartKids Project.

Earlier this month our Government established the HeartKids Project to tackle childhood heart disease, which affects more than 65,000 Australians. In Australia, of the approximately 300,000 births each year, 2,400 to 3,000 babies are born with a form of congenital heart disease.

On the weekend, I was also delighted to announce the creation of a new Medicare item for heart health checks, ensuring Australians at risk of heart disease receive timely and appropriate medical advice.

From April 1 this year a new dedicated Medicare item for heart health checks will support General Practitioners and patients in assessing cardiovascular risk.

Over the weekend our Government also announced $35 million for the development of a vaccine to combat rheumatic heart disease.

The funding provided from the Medical Research Future Fund will allow fast-tracking and funding of clinical trials, and the commercial production of a vaccine for use in Australia and internationally.

Rheumatic heart disease claims the lives of up to 150 mainly young Australians a year, and 500,000 people worldwide.

This 10-year Mission for Cardiovascular Health, the funding to develop a rheumatic heart disease vaccine and the range of Medicare items that cover services and tests where people may have heart disease or are at risk of heart disease will ensure we are tackling heart disease and heart conditions from every front.

Additionally, since 2013 the Coalition Government has provided $662.2 million for research into cardiovascular disease and $7.7 billion to subsidise medicine to treat cardiovascular disease on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).