New guidelines and heart calculator a potential life saver

Cardiovascular disease

New cardiovascular guidelines as well as an online risk calculator have been released, highlighting the close link between kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.

The new guidelines –  2023 Australian Guideline for assessing and managing cardiovascular disease riskwhich were last updated in 2012, identify the importance of kidney disease as a major risk factor for heart disease, reinforcing the need for GPs to do a Kidney Health Check before completing their cardiovascular assessment.

Kidney disease remains severely underdiagnosed due to its symptomless nature.

Now, those being assessed for cardiovascular disease (CVD) will have their kidney health assessed earlier, giving them more time to treat and manage the interlinking conditions.

Chris Forbes, Kidney Health Australia CEO and Chair of the Australian Chronic Diseases Prevention Alliance (ACDPA) says the new calculator is a powerful tool that will enable earlier detection and treatment of chronic kidney disease, ultimately reducing the number of associated cardiovascular deaths.

“Kidney disease and the resultant potential for cardiovascular death is a ticking time bomb for the 1.8 million Aussies currently living with undiagnosed kidney disease,” says Mr Forbes.

“The guidelines and calculator are another critical step in detecting and managing both diseases earlier to save thousands of lives.”

According to Kidney Health Australia’s recently released Deloitte Economics Access Report, earlier detection of kidney disease could result in 38,200 fewer deaths due to kidney failure and CVD-related events, 237,234 fewer CVD hospitalisations and save the economy $3.3 billion in reduced occurrence of kidney-related cardiovascular disease hospitalisations over the next 20 years.

Endorsed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the guidelines offer clinicians practical advice and tools to facilitate shared decision-making with their patients.

The guidelines also provide greater support for First Nations Australians. Among First Nations Australian adults with cardiovascular disease, 32% have comorbid CKD (compared to 21% of non-Indigenous Australians).

Dr Karen Dwyer, Clinical Director at Kidney Health Australia, who was part of the guidelines’ development team says: “It is critical to make the link – think kidney disease, think heart disease. Think heart disease, think kidney disease.”

Mr Forbes adds: “Diagnosing and managing kidney disease earlier prevents heart deaths and hospitalisations, reduces economic impacts and keeps Aussies out of hospital, working and enjoying life longer.”