Heart-to-heart care for Australia’s young

Congenital heart disease is prevalent in Australia’s children. Many also develop heart disease as they age, and with increasing incidence of childhood obesity, fuelled by sedentary lifestyles and poor diet, even more children become susceptible to heart conditions.

Cia Connell, Manager for Clinical Evidence at the Heart Foundation and Specialised Cardiology Pharmacist, says it is here that pharmacists and pharmacy assistants have a critical role to play in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease in children.

Professor Andrew McLachlan, Head of School and Dean at the University of Sydney School of Pharmacy, agrees, saying that children born with congenital cardiovascular problems or who develop them as they age are “an important patient group” for pharmacists.

According to Hearts of Hope, heart disease is present one in every hundred babies at birth, with eight babies born in Australia every day with heart disease, making congenital heart disease the most common birth defect in Australia.

The organisation adds that heart disease is the most common reason for admission of Australian children to intensive care units, with more than 1300 being admitted each year.

Professor McLachlan says it’s very important to address challenges around lifestyle and increasing episodes of obesity in children.

“Now greater awareness of potential cardiovascular problems in younger people must come to the fore. Important messages around diet and lifestyle need to be conveyed to them,” Professor McLachlan says.

“More importantly, however, it’s about a shared-decision making process to help young people and their families become aware of cardiovascular health in children and what treatment options are out there, and to help parents and their children to connect with them.”

Matthew Harris, Media and PR Advisor at NPS MedicineWise, says ensuring the dose is correct for a child’s weight is important when it comes to cardiovascular medicines.

Ms Connell too emphasises that in addition to pharmacological advice, pharmacists are called to provide non-pharmacological advice on exercise and diet and their importance to cardiovascular health.

To read the full article, which features in the latest issue of Retail Pharmacy Assistants magazine, visit: rpassistants.com.au/rpa-april-2020