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Minister welcomes week for healthy hearts.

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Media Release

Senator the Hon Kay Patterson Minister for Health and Ageing


27 April 2003


During National Heart Week 2003 (27 April - 4 May) Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson, welcomed the reduction in the number of heart attacks and deaths from heart disease in Australia.

Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that between 1993 and 2000, deaths from coronary heart disease fell by 30 per cent, with a 20 per cent drop in the number of heart attacks in the same period.

"These improvements can be attributed to the reduction in smoking, better medical control of high blood cholesterol and hypertension, and advances in emergency responses to heart attacks,' Senator Patterson said.

"Although deaths from heart disease are declining, there are more people living with heart disease. This makes prevention all the more important and the Government has already stated its commitment to making prevention a fundamental component of an effective and sustainable health system."

The link between physical inactivity, poor nutrition and heart disease is conclusive, and the Government recently identified overweight and obesity as an emerging priority for action.

"Currently, seven million adult Australians are either overweight or obese. Sadly, 20 per cent of children are in the same category and this is up from 11 per cent in 1985." Senator Patterson said.

"These trends in obesity together with decreases in physical inactivity are likely to increase the burden of heart disease in the next few years.

"We know what needs to be done to prevent heart disease - avoid smoking, moderate exercise (30 minutes a day) and a healthy diet low in salt and saturated fats.

"In line with our commitment to prevention, I took the lead in establishing a National


Obesity Taskforce which will tackle the problem of overweight and obesity in Australia. There is good evidence that the association between obesity and disease begins early in life, and the initial work of the Taskforce will focus on childhood obesity."

As part of the Government's commitment to combating heart disease, the National Centre for Monitoring Cardiovascular Disease was established in 1996. The internationally recognised Centre monitors the factors contributing to the disease, and the Government has provided funding of over $3.5 million to support its valuable work.

"Encouraging Australians to quit smoking has also been a priority for the Government," Senator Patterson said. "Since 1997 we have spent $19.5 million on the National Tobacco Campaign and I'm pleased to say our efforts have achieved positive results, with a reduction in smoking prevalence from 23.5 per cent to 20.2 per cent between 1997 and 2001.

"Our success in reducing the level of tobacco smoking in Australia has shown that we can make healthy lifestyle choices. It is time that we made similar gains in physical activity and nutrition.

"Helping Australians lead healthier lifestyles is a major aim of the Government and should be a goal for all levels of government, communities, workplaces and industry. We all need to work together to find ways to help Australians make healthier choices," Senator Patterson said.

Media Contact: Randal Markey, 0417 694 520

Published on Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing web site 28 April 2003 Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing URL: