15 June 2021

Heart failure in Australia

Heart Failure is both a costly and complex clinical syndrome that can lead to high hospital readmission rates and poor prognosis. According to ‘Snapshot of heart failure in Australia’, approximately 511,000 Australians are being affected by heart failure which attributes to 61,000 deaths per year.1

Infographic with map of Australia indicating 511,000 Australians were affected by heart failure in 2017; with 67,000 new cases; 61,000 deaths; 158,000 hospitalisations; 1.1 million days equivalent of hospital stay every year costing $3.1 billion in healthcare costs.


  1. Chen L BS, Keates AK, Stewart S. Snapshot of heart failure in Australia. Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research. 2017.


Although there are improvements in patient care, heart failure patient mortality rates remain high, with poor prognosis. Only 50% of patients with heart failure are alive, 5 years after being diagnosed.


Infographic showing the high mortality even with treatment. Within one year of diagnosis one in five people with heart failure will die. Within five years of diagnosis, one in two people with heart failure will die.


The primary reasons for poor prognosis are mostly due to:

    • late diagnosis 
    • inadequate disease management
  • disconnected care


Early detection of heart failure and effective management allows patients to have a better and longer life and can lead to a reduction in potentially preventable hospitalisations for their chronic condition.


Why is Quality Improvement important?

General practitioners play an essential role in early detection, identifying and managing patients with heart failure. Continuously undertaking quality improvement activities enable the GP to;

  • Identify patients who are at risk of developing heart failure
  • Review the care of current patients with heart failure
  • Achieve better health outcomes for heart failure patients 
  • Reflect on practice processes for care for heart failure management and identify opportunities to improve workflow, policy, and procedures for future care


Tips and tricks for clinicians

The Quality Improvement in Primary Care program (QIPC) helps supports general practices in creating in house quality improvement activities. Utilising a Model of Improvement (MFI) and POLAR, the GP can identify high risk patients and recently diagnosed Heart failure patients to be recalled and reviewed.

POLAR logo

An example of identifying your diagnosed Heart Failure patients who are at high risk of hospitalisation in the coming 12 months in order to recall and review;

  1. Log into POLAR
  2. Navigate to Reports (top left-hand corner)
  3. Choose the “Clinical summary report”
  1. Click the tab “Clinical” then “Clinical indicators” from the dropdown box
  2. From the green “Inclusion Filters” select “Diagnosis”, then “SNOMED” and type “Cardiovascular”
  3. Click on “Risk” and under “HARP Risk” select “Urgent”
  4. To view who these patients are, click “Patient list” (top right-hand corner), then ‘Export’ to an excel spreadsheet.


NPS MedicineWise logo

NPS MedicineWise is collaborating with the National Heart Foundation of Australia and has many useful resources of Heart failure. These resources can also be used as a quality improvement activity to fulfill your PIP QI requirements.

Heart Foundation logo


National Heart Foundation of Australia also has a Smart Heart Guideline App available for the clinicians to access heart failure guidelines. 


HealthPathways logo


 Refer to Health Pathways for clinical management and treatment options for different health conditions including up-to-date cardiovascular risk assessment and heart failure management information.

If you wish to find out more about Heart Failure or SWSPHN’s QIPC program, please email: HSIsupport@swsphn.com.au