I am
NT: Cost of inaction on heart disease too high
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

NT: Cost of inaction on heart disease too high

NT Media Release - 6 August 2020

The Heart Foundation has today presented all candidates in the upcoming election with a $116 million a year bill for the cost of inaction on the health and economic impacts of tobacco and rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

Sarah George, the Heart Foundation’s Heart Health Manager for the NT, says the “bill” comprises:

  • Healthcare costs of $103 million per year for smoking, the equivalent of $419 per person in the NT

  • Healthcare costs of $13 million per year for rheumatic heart disease (RHD)

Ms George says, “If no further action is taken on RHD, 48 people in the NT will need surgery due to their illness and 24 people will die each year.

“Meanwhile, one in five Territorians who die each year are dying because they smoked.

“Smoking is not just a lung destroyer – it is also one of the most devastating things you can do to your heart. Too many Territorians inflict this lethal damage to themselves every day.”  

Ms George said the Heart Foundation was presenting a raft of measures for the incoming government to do more to stem the tide of smoking in the NT: “These include boosting long-term stop-smoking programs and mass media campaigns, banning tobacco vending machines and reducing the influence of tobacco companies by stopping their donations to political parties.

“We have the highest daily smoking rate in the country. What’s more, people in the NT are more than twice as likely to have a tobacco-related illness as Australians living elsewhere. We can’t continue down this road.”

The Territory also has nearly half the nation’s cases of RHD, a preventable and treatable illness related to social disadvantage, including overcrowded housing.

RHD is caused by repeated cases of acute rheumatic fever (ARF). Left untreated, RHD can cause heart failure, stroke and complications of pregnancy, and may be fatal.

 “RHD is a marker of inequality that cuts through the heart of Indigenous communities and compels action from the next Territory government,” Ms George said.

 “We need further commitment, funding and coordination from the next government to address the conditions and factors that contribute to RHD in the NT, and we need an approach that is led by Indigenous peoples.”

NT Interventional cardiologist Dr Edwina Wing-Lun said the Territory has the highest rate and greatest number of new RHD diagnoses among Indigenous Australians each year: “Rates here are three times that of other states and territories.

“It’s an insidious disease that strikes in childhood but stretches into adulthood, killing people prematurely and causing terrible complications. Tragically, it’s preventable,” Dr Wing-Lun said. 

The Heart Foundation is calling on the next Territory Government to demonstrate strong leadership and take action to reduce heart disease in our community. This includes: 

  • Measures to help people to quit smoking and protect young people from taking up smoking. For example, banning smoking and vaping from school grounds.

  • Investing in a Walking Strategy to get more people walking more often.

  • Banning unhealthy food and drink ads aimed at young people in outdoor spaces

  • Improving heart care for Territorians and ensuring everyone has access to rehab services after a heart event.

More information about the Heart Foundation’s policies and the Follow Your Heart campaign can be found here.

Research Directory

Research Directory

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

And the heartache lasts a lifetime. But you can help the Heart Foundation fund life-saving research to keep more families together....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Healthy chicken fajitas

Healthy chicken fajitas

20 minutes
Serves 4

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

A series of virtual events for young adults on managing emotional wellbeing. ...

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Discover key information on heart-healthy eating and drinking....

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Would you like to improve the cardiovascular health of your patients?...

Physical activity and your heart health

Physical activity and your heart health

Physical activity and your heart health

Physical activity and exercise can benefit your heart, body and mind....

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

1 hour
Serves 4

Heart failure clinical resources

Heart failure clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing: An Online Forum for Young Heart Patients

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Alliance with chronic disease prevention stakeholders...

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

With immediate help a cardiac arrest can be survived. Learn how to save a life....

What is angina?

What is angina?

What is angina?

Angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that’s a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease (CHD)....

Smoking and your heart

Smoking and your heart

Smoking and your heart

Understand how smoking can impact your heart health. ...

Heart conditions in women

Heart conditions in women

Heart conditions in women

Like men, women can be diagnosed with a range of heart conditions....

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Explore some useful things to know about intimacy after a heart attack....

Our research stories

Our research stories

Our research stories

We fund amazing researchers who have important stories to tell...

Heart Week

Heart Week

Heart Week

May 3 – 9, 2021...

Blood pressure and your heart

Blood pressure and your heart

Blood pressure and your heart

Understand blood pressure and how it can impact your heart health....

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Absolute CVD risk charts

Absolute CVD risk charts

Absolute CVD risk charts provide a visual tool to calculate CVD risk for use in practice in Australia....

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

WEBINAR | Heart Health Checks: the critical role of the practice nurse

This webinar discusses the role of practice nurses in conducting heart health checks...

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

We need your opinion, experience and skills to help us improve the heart health of all Australians. ...

NSW Cardiovascular Research Network

NSW Cardiovascular Research Network

NSW Cardiovascular Research Network

Encouraging cardiovascular research excellence in NSW ...

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

National tobacco strategy

National tobacco strategy

Frameworks supporting tobacco control in Australia ...

The Heart Failure Toolkit

The Heart Failure Toolkit

The Toolkit provides health services with a targeted approach to addressing readmission rates and decreasing variation in care....

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Get the right balance of healthy fats in your diet ...