New country SA cardiac treatment saving lives

Just one phone call a week from medical specialists is saving the lives of country people during their cardiac rehabilitation.

A cardiac rehabilitation program, named CATCH, is specifically designed for rural and regional South Australia is delivering over-the-phone care. 

Network Operations and Research Manager at iCCnet (the group responsible for CATCH) Rosy Tirimacco, said the telephone program is focused on improving the heart health of as many country patients as possible.

“The mortality rate for patients within six months of completing the CATCH telephone program is significantly lower than the rate for patients who didn’t complete a cardiac rehabilitation program in the same time frame,” Ms Tirimacco said.

“The mortality rate for 727 patients six months after completing the CATCH telephone program was under one per cent. Compare that to a 2.1 per cent mortality rate for the 288 patients who didn’t participate in a cardiac rehab program, and it’s clear that CATCH is keeping people alive longer.”

Rather than visiting group sessions far from a patient’s home, they can discuss risk factors and ways to implement lifestyle changes with clinical nurses, a pharmacist, a dietitian and an exercise physiologist all over the phone.

“Patients are able to participate in cardiac rehabilitation on their own terms – they can have telephone conversations in the comfort of their own home, on the harvester or at the beach, saving them travel inconvenience and costs,” Ms Tirimacco said.

Country Health SA Chief Executive Officer Maree Geraghty said the success of the CATCH telephone program was a credit to all involved.

“This program is making a huge difference to country people on a day to day basis, enabling them to reach the same health outcomes as people in metropolitan areas,” Ms Geraghty said.

“Providing this kind of service close to home benefits patients and their loved ones, and our analysis shows the completion rate for people who begin the CATCH telephone program is more than 90 per cent – significantly higher than other states where the completion rate for group-based cardiac rehabilitation is much lower.”

Country SA Primary Health Network CEO Kim Hosking said the program enables those living in country South Australia who have had a cardiac event to access the same level of follow-up support as people in metropolitan areas.

“We knew there would be value in making this service a reality for regional and rural South Australians and the fact that it’s being credited with saving lives certainly demonstrates its importance.”