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  • The federal government is being urged to fund heart health checks under Medicare

    Author: AAP

Too many Australians are dying of heart attacks or becoming debilitated after an episode because Medicare does not fund regular heart checks, News Corp reports.

The federal government is being urged to fund heart health checks under Medicare, with the disease recognised as the nation's biggest killer.

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An average of 21 people die from a heart attack across the nation each day, while 22 are killed by a stroke, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

News Corp Australia is partnering with the Heart Foundation to fund a campaign to have Medicare pay for heart checks under a national screening program.

"During the half-hour people spent having breakfast today, another person died; in the hour it took to read this newspaper, we would increase that by two more. This is a tragic scenario and we simply cannot allow it to continue," Heart Foundation chief executive John Kelly told News Corp.

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The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, the Consumer's Health Forum and the Public Health Association back a Medicare rebate for a heart check-up, which has been knocked back by the Medicare Benefits Review task force.

The same check-up has been effectively used in New Zealand and the UK, News Corp reports.

FACTS AND FIGURES:

- economic cost of $6.7 billion a year, including $2 billion hit to the health budget and lost productivity

- one in four who have a heart attack will never work again and have difficulty bathing and dressing themselves; one in three have difficulty grocery shopping

- checks estimated to cost Medicare $170 million over five years; if it results in more people taking medication, a further $600 million

- it would save the economy more than $1.5 billion.

- prevent 76,500 heart attacks over the next five years.

* Source: News Corp Australia/Heart Foundation

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