The deaths of cricket legend Shane Warne and politician Kimberley Kitching have been linked to more Australians coming forward for a heart check in recent months.
More than 10 per cent of some 309,000 heart health checks subsidised under the Medicare Benefits Schedule since 2019 took place from March to May this year, data shows.
The sprint past the 300,000 milestone was “propelled in part by the recent and unfortunate heart events impacting high-profile people”, the Heart Foundation says.
On March 4, retired legspinner and cricket commentator Warne died aged 52 from a suspected heart attack and congenital disease in Koh Samui, Thailand.
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Victorian Labor senator Kimberley Kitching died less than a week later from a suspected heart attack in Melbourne. She was also 52.
At the current take-up rate, Heart Foundation chief medical adviser Garry Jennings says Australia could reach 450,000 Medicare-subsidised heart health checks by mid-2023.
“This just reiterates the need for government to ensure that heart health checks will be permanently subsidised by Medicare beyond its June 2023 expiry date, especially after several years of people putting off their health due to the pandemic,” Professor Jennings said in a statement on Thursday.
More than eight million people are eligible for a subsidised health check and Prof Jennings encouraged those aged 45 or over, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are 30 or older, to have one regularly.
“Our message to those Australians is that heart disease is progressive, and its symptoms rarely show before it’s too late,” he said.
“A Medicare-subsidised heart health check takes just 20 minutes and could help add years to your life as an important first step towards a healthier heart.”
MEDICARE-SUBIDISED HEALTH CHECKS IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS TO MAY 2022
* May 2021 – 8638
* June 2021 – 8932
* July 2021 – 8653
* August 2021 – 9868
* September 2021 – 9271
* October 2021 – 9129
* November 2021 – 9652
* December 2021 – 7845
* January 2022 – 4788
* February 2022 – 7528
* March 2022 – 12,237
* April 2022 – 10,102
* May 2022 – 11,953