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Monday, 23 May 2011
Page: 4198


Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (13:06): I am sure all my colleagues on this side of the House support the general intention of this motion on cardiovascular disease. The coalition will always support sensible proposals, and this is no exception. I was particularly encouraged to speak on this motion today given the Heart Foundation's launch of this year's Go Red for Women campaign, which unites women in the fight against heart disease, the biggest killer of Australian women. Surprisingly, a woman is four times more likely to die of heart disease than of breast cancer.

While there is little doubt that we have largely eliminated many fatal diseases that still afflict less developed and less affluent countries, we still have significant health problems. These are often of our own making through overconsumption and inactivity. Cardiovascular disease is high on the list of such diseases, affecting 3.4 million people and resulting in the death of one person every 11 minutes. This, despite heart diseases being in many cases simply a by-product of personal lifestyle choices.

Surgical treatment of advanced cardiovascular disease is expensive and frequently does not result in a good outcome. In sharp contrast, early diagnosis and preventive treatment normally provides a much better outcome at a significantly lower financial cost. Clearly then our responsibility in this place is to ensure that all Australians are aware of these stark facts and are encouraged to seek medical advice in any case of doubt. Symptoms of cardiovascular disease may be present quite early, particularly if predisposing factors such as smoking, being overweight or high blood pressure are present.

In light of the benefits of an early diagnosis, research is currently being conducted at the University of Queensland in my electorate of Ryan into detecting heart disease through a simple saliva test. This is the first research of its kind conducted in Australia, and the team at the University of Queensland has made significant inroads. Currently heart disease is diagnosed through a biomolecule taken from blood. However, Dr Charmindie Punyadeera and her team have made a huge breakthrough by identifying the same biomolecule in saliva. This means that patients can receive a highly accurate non-invasive diagnosis in less than 15 minutes, making early detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease much more successful. Such research could lead to cardiac patients being able to monitor and treat their disease effectively from the comfort of their own home, ensuring considerably less stress and saving government and individuals alike on health costs. The benefits of this research alone demonstrate the need for continued funding of medical research.

No-one would seriously recommend a strategy of running their car until it breaks down before getting it serviced, so why would one follow such a policy with their own health? As with servicing a car, a regular check-up visit to one's doctor is really the only sensible course.

In conclusion, may I reiterate my support for moves to make a preventive approach the default in dealing with

cardiovascular disease and similar diseases affected by lifestyle which afflict Australians. Success in this endeavour will bring a health and lifestyle bonus to a significant number of Australians while reducing needless demands on the public purse, and is therefore very worthwhile. As the member for Moreton will attest, the Brisbane City Council runs the very successful Active School Travel Program in which they have a regular Walking Wheeling Wednesday for all schoolchildren throughout the Brisbane City Council area.

I commend the suggestion of the member for Shortland that we in this place should become more active. I note that one of the six key goals for women—and the challenge for the Go Red for Women campaign is that we adopt one of these six key goals—is to be active every day, so perhaps in this place more of us should take the stairs instead of catching the elevator. I look forward to congestion on the stairways in Parliament House as we all get healthy in the future.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr S Georganas ): Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.