Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are among the leading causes of death and disease burden in Australia. Primary health care and cardiovascular medicines are critical to their successful management.
This report explores the relationships between CVD and the supply of cardiovascular medicines and primary health care services across Australian regions. The report is limited in part by the quality and availability of the data, particularly for Remote and Very remote regions.
Key findings are presented below.
Regional need for cardiovascular medicines and primary health care
- CVD death and hospitalisation rates increased with increasing remoteness.
- The age-standardised prevalence of CVD was significantly higher in Inner regional areas than in Major cities.
- Indigenous Australians, who make up a high proportion of the population in Remote and Very remote areas, had significantly higher rates of CVD deaths and hospitalisations than Other Australians.
Regional supply of cardiovascular medicines
- The supply of cardiovascular medicines was generally highest in Inner and Outer regional areas, reflecting the poorer cardiovascular health outside Major cities.
- This pattern does not apply to serum-lipid-reducing agents, such as cholesterol-lowering medicines, where the supply decreased with increasing remoteness.
- Accurately estimating the supply of medicines to Remote and Very remote areas was difficult owing to data limitations, particularly for Section 100 medicines; these medicines comprise up to one-third of the total medicine supply in these areas.
Regional GP services and medicine prescription
- The rate of General Practitioner (GP) attendances for cardiovascular or lipid disorders was significantly higher in Major cities than in other areas. This is in contrast to both CVD prevalence, which was highest in Innerregional areas, and the supply of cardiovascular medicines, which was highest in Inner and Outer regional areas.
- GPs across regions prescribed cardiovascular medicines in a similar pattern.
This report reveals differences in the supply of cardiovascular medicines and primary health care services across regions in Australia. However, the relationship between CVD, remoteness and the supply of cardiovascular medicines and primary health-care services is complex. This relationship could not be fully explored in this report because of data limitations, but it is hoped that improvements to data quality and data linkage will allow more comprehensive analyses in future.