Cardiac Rehabilitation Program saving lives

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

A cardiac rehabilitation program being delivered to patients in rural and regional South Australia is being credited with saving lives.

Country Health SA’s Integrated Cardiovascular Clinical Network (iCCnet) delivers the Country Access to Cardiac Health (CATCH) telephone program to patients across rural and regional SA who have survived a significant heart event, like a heart attack.

Network Operations and Research Manager at iCCnet, Rosy Tirimacco, said the CATCH telephone program is focused on improving the heart health of as many country patients as possible.

“The mortality rate for patients within six months of completing the CATCH telephone program is significantly lower than the rate for patients who didn’t complete a cardiac rehabilitation program in the same time frame,” Ms Tirimacco said.

“The mortality rate for 727 patients six months after completing the CATCH telephone program was under one per cent. Compare that to a 2.1 per cent mortality rate for the 288 patients who didn’t participate in a cardiac rehab program, and it’s clear that CATCH is keeping people alive longer.”

The CATCH telephone program is a seven-week program available to country patients of all ages who have had a heart attack, undergone open heart surgery or had a significant heart event.

Unlike most group-based cardiac rehabilitation programs, the CATCH telephone program involves seven weekly phone calls, followed by two phone follow-up consultations six and 12 months after the heart attack or surgery.

The weekly phone calls monitor patients’ recovery by discussing risk factors and ways to implement lifestyle changes, while the six and 12 month follow-up calls examine patients’ progress.

“The CATCH telephone team – which consists of clinical nurses, a pharmacist, a dietician and an exercise physiologist – provide highly individualised patient-centred care,” Ms Tirimacco said.

“Patients are able to participate in cardiac rehabilitation on their own terms – they can have telephone conversations in the comfort of their own home, on the harvester or at the beach, saving them travel inconvenience and costs.”

The CATCH telephone cardiac rehabilitation program has been made possible by funding and support from Country SA Primary Health Network (PHN). 

Country SA PHN CEO Kim Hosking said the program enables those living in country South Australia who have had a cardiac event to access the same level of follow-up support as people in metropolitan areas.

“There’s very strong research which shows that if people don’t access a health professional following a cardiac event they have a much higher chance of experiencing another attack or even dying,” Mr Hosking said.

“We knew there would be value in making this service a reality for regional and rural South Australians and the fact that it’s being credited with saving lives certainly demonstrates its importance.”

Country Health SA Chief Executive Officer Maree Geraghty said the success of the CATCH telephone program was a credit to all involved.

“This program is making a huge difference to country people on a day to day basis, enabling them to reach the same health outcomes as people in metropolitan areas,” Ms Geraghty said.

“Providing this kind of service close to home benefits patients and their loved ones, and our analysis shows the completion rate for people who begin the CATCH telephone program is more than 90 per cent – significantly higher than other states where the completion rate for group-based cardiac rehabilitation is much lower.”

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