Did you know Australians living in regional and remote areas are at greater risk of dying from heart disease? We take a look at Australia’s heart heath, and the Visionflex clinical telehealth solutions for remote heart health checks.
According to the Heart Foundation, cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes heart, stroke, and blood vessel diseases, is one of the most prevalent diseases in Australia and is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths across the country.
However, the risk isn’t spread evenly: Forty percent more males die from CVD compared to females, while people in lower socioeconomic groups, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and those living in regional and remote areas, generally have higher rates of death resulting from CVD than other Australians. The Heart Foundation’s Heart Maps graphically indicate how heart health hinges on both a person’s address and hip pocket:
- Regional and rural areas dominate the nation’s death and hospitalisation hotspots.
- Heart disease deaths are more than 50 percent higher for Australians in very remote locations compared to their capital city counterparts.
- Red flags for heart disease, such as high rates of obesity, lack of exercise and high blood pressure are worse across the board in regional Australia.
- Where a neighbourhood sits on the socio-economic ladder, is linked to the likelihood of its residents becoming a heart disease statistic.
Lack of access to health services
The challenges of geographic spread, low population density, limited infrastructure, and higher costs of delivering rural and remote healthcare can affect access to healthcare, and further compound heart health issues for Australians living outside urban areas.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the numbers of non-hospital, non-referred attendances per person, such as GP visits, are lower in remote and very remote areas. People living in these areas experience health workforce shortages, despite having a greater need for medical services and practitioners with a broader scope of practice. The result is patients often travel very long distances to receive the care they require.
Rural and remote patients can also face challenges around participation in cardiac rehabilitation programs due to costs associated with travel to centres where the sessions are delivered.
Heart health checks
The Heart Foundation calculates that 1.4 million Australians have a high chance of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years. Many are unaware of this risk.
To help patients understand their personal risk, regular heart checks are recommended for anyone aged 45 years and over, or 30 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
A heart health check involves either a nurse, GP, or cardiologist checking a patient’s blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, as well as listening to the heart with a stethoscope. There is also a discussion about a patient’s diet, physical activity levels, smoking and alcohol consumption, weight, and medical and family histories.
The telehealth solution for remote heart health checks
Visionflex’s clinical telehealth system enables health practitioners including nurses, doctors, and specialists such as cardiologists, to perform heart health checks of remote patients.
The easy-to-use telehealth system and its integrated medical devices enable detailed medical examinations via video conference. The system can be used for routine heart checks; to discuss symptoms, medications, and treatment; as well as review and share patient data and test results.
The Visionflex heart check telehealth solution comprises:
ProEX Telehealth Hub and ProEX Mobile
Connect and collaborate remotely with doctors and patients via a high-speed, secure, HD video conference system designed specifically for medical settings.
Find out more about the ProEX
Thinklabs One Digital Stethoscope
The world’s smallest and most powerful digital stethoscope that fits in the palm of your hand. Can be used via a ProEX telehealth system to listen to a remote patient’s heart, lung, and body sounds.
Find out more about the Thinklabs One
Digital USB Stethoscope
Optimised to stream crystal clear heart, lung and body sounds to help clinicians make informed medical decisions from a distance. No battery, buttons, or dials, and connect via USB 2.0, 3.0.
Find out more about the Digital USB Stethoscope
Accu-Chek Blood Glucose Monitor
Connects with the ProEX system, as well as compatible smartphones to enable collaboration between a health practitioner with a patient, and a doctor at the far end of the video conference call.
Find out more about the Blood Glucose Monitor
A world-first digital stethoscope platform that transmits stethoscope audio digitally in real time without loss of quality. The far-end physician controls digital stethoscope volume, gain, and audio filters to listen to a remote patient’s heart, lung, and body sounds.
Find out more about TrueSteth
Portable ECG Heart Monitor
Compact and easy-to-use ECG that measures and records electrocardiogram signals and average heart rates on adult patients. Ideal for use with the ProEX system, allowing all readings and waveforms to be recorded and stored against patient records.
Find out more about the Portable ECG