I am
Show me:
Show me:
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.

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Help Keep families together this Christmas

Help Keep families together this Christmas

Help Keep families together this Christmas

Together, we can make heart disease history. Donate today to help fund ground-breaking heart research and keep families together this Christmas. ...

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join the Heart Foundation community. Together, we can make a real difference for Australian hearts. ...

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Visit the St Vincents Hospital NSW and Heart Foundation Aboriginal heart health website for more information...

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Find heart healthy Italian recipes....

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

Kim shares the emotional and physical upheaval experienced on her journey to diagnosis and recovery....

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Alliance with chronic disease prevention stakeholders...

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Resources available for built environment professionals to help guide in the development of active outdoor and indoor spaces....

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Got a question about your heart?...

Salad recipes

Salad recipes

Salad recipes

Search through our tasty salad recipes...

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Physical activity and exercise can do wonders for your physical and mental health....

Taking your medicines

Taking your medicines

Taking your medicines

There are many medicines that treat heart attack, angina, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart conditions....

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Find heart healthy chicken recipes....

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Nutrition information panels and ingredients lists are a good way of comparing similar foods so you can choose the healthiest option....

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease....

Mental health and heart disease

Mental health and heart disease

Mental health and heart disease

Having a mental health condition can have a negative impact on your heart health and increase your risk of heart disease....

What waist measurements mean for your heart

What waist measurements mean for your heart

What waist measurements mean for your heart

How your waist measurement contributes to your heart health...

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Get your family moving

Get your family moving

Get your family moving

Get your kids active and set them up for healthier habits into adulthood....

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

Open heart surgery to treat damaged heart valves has improved Jan's overall health....

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition. ...

Our programs and initiatives

Our programs and initiatives

Our programs and initiatives

The Heart Foundation delivers innovative, evidence-based programs and initiatives to support and prevent heart disease in Australia...

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Join the fight against heart disease....

Life changing research currently underway

Life changing research currently underway

Life changing research currently underway

Search our current researcher's and the ground breaking research being undertaken....