Chest pain? Get to a doctor

File picture

IF YOU are experiencing mild chest pain you need to see your doctor.

"Too few people are doing so,” said Hauora Tairawhiti chief executive Jim Green, speaking to the health board’s hospital advisory committee (HAC).

In the first six months of 2017, ambulatory sensitive hospitalisations (ie hospital admissions that could be avoided by accessing primary heath care) had increased after an earlier downward trend.

But records show the rate of angina and chest pain incidents here are lower than the national rate.

“It’s below the national rate by a long margin,” Mr Green told the Herald.

“This doesn’t make sense when you see Tairawhiti’s rate for heart attacks is higher compared to the national picture.

“Both (angina/chest pains and heart attacks) should be high. If people are accessing primary care or coming to hospital when they have mild chest pain.”

Speaking to HAC, Mr Green said, “In simple terms, people are not going to the doctor or coming to hospital for milder chest pain.

“When it becomes unbearable, they are being admitted.”

“Our population is missing the real benefits of early diagnosis and intervention for more mild chest pain, which will lead to better health and reduce the progression of disease to more serious and often fatal states.”

Mild symptoms

Mild symptoms of cardiovascular disease require a response.

“A prompt GP visit is required. If you are walking out to get the mail and get pains in the chest, clearly something is not right.”

Mr Green said there was still good news.

“We have eliminated the inequity of access to cardiac procedures, and moved Maori ahead to redress the burden of disease."

Mr Green was referring to standardised intervention rates for Maori cardiac patients among the Midlands (Tairawhiti, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Lakes) health boards.

Of the 14 different categories, only in the coronary artery bypass grafting, interventional cardiology and defibrillator categories did Tairawhiti Maori rate as being significantly above Ministry of Healthy (MofH) targets.

(For non-Maori, Tairawhiti rated significantly above MofH targets in none of the 14 categories.)

“We have been improving services to ensure people, in this case Maori, get access to these procedures — indeed, all cardiac procedures — for our population because we have the highest need in the region,’’ Mr Green said.

He said there was still scope for further improving access with cardiology services developments, including the Healthy Hearts Save 1000 Lives programme.

That programme provides non-invasive specialist cardiology services, currently provided in Hamilton, which would include a cardiologist, a cardiac medical technician and administrative support.

Mr Green said the service was also focusing on stroke.

“For stroke it is always the same message — go straight to hospital, do not wait to ring the GP or wait to see if it gets better. It won’t go away.

“Go to the hospital or ring 111. Absolutely, come to the hospital.”

Difficulties in isolated areas

Hiki Pihema and Meredith Akuhata-Brown said there could be difficulties for people living in isolated areas such as on the East Coast in immediately accessing hospital care.

Mrs Akuhata-Brown said costs could still be an issue for some when deciding whether to seek primary health care. Mr Green and HAC members discussed how people led busy lives where they often prioritised other commitments above their health.

Prue Younger asked where the public could get basic health information.

Mr Green said patients enrolled with GPs had a relationship with a primary provider, but the quality of the relationship could vary between patients.

There were lifestyle issues such as diet and exercise, and educational issues such as understanding the significance of chest pain.

There had been significant progress, but much work remained to be done.

The approach of the new Hauora Tairawhiti with the young meant the health statistics of the region could be changed for the better in future, he said.

IF YOU are experiencing mild chest pain you need to see your doctor.

"Too few people are doing so,” said Hauora Tairawhiti chief executive Jim Green, speaking to the health board’s hospital advisory committee (HAC).

In the first six months of 2017, ambulatory sensitive hospitalisations (ie hospital admissions that could be avoided by accessing primary heath care) had increased after an earlier downward trend.

But records show the rate of angina and chest pain incidents here are lower than the national rate.

“It’s below the national rate by a long margin,” Mr Green told the Herald.

“This doesn’t make sense when you see Tairawhiti’s rate for heart attacks is higher compared to the national picture.

“Both (angina/chest pains and heart attacks) should be high. If people are accessing primary care or coming to hospital when they have mild chest pain.”

Speaking to HAC, Mr Green said, “In simple terms, people are not going to the doctor or coming to hospital for milder chest pain.

“When it becomes unbearable, they are being admitted.”

“Our population is missing the real benefits of early diagnosis and intervention for more mild chest pain, which will lead to better health and reduce the progression of disease to more serious and often fatal states.”

Mild symptoms

Mild symptoms of cardiovascular disease require a response.

“A prompt GP visit is required. If you are walking out to get the mail and get pains in the chest, clearly something is not right.”

Mr Green said there was still good news.

“We have eliminated the inequity of access to cardiac procedures, and moved Maori ahead to redress the burden of disease."

Mr Green was referring to standardised intervention rates for Maori cardiac patients among the Midlands (Tairawhiti, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Lakes) health boards.

Of the 14 different categories, only in the coronary artery bypass grafting, interventional cardiology and defibrillator categories did Tairawhiti Maori rate as being significantly above Ministry of Healthy (MofH) targets.

(For non-Maori, Tairawhiti rated significantly above MofH targets in none of the 14 categories.)

“We have been improving services to ensure people, in this case Maori, get access to these procedures — indeed, all cardiac procedures — for our population because we have the highest need in the region,’’ Mr Green said.

He said there was still scope for further improving access with cardiology services developments, including the Healthy Hearts Save 1000 Lives programme.

That programme provides non-invasive specialist cardiology services, currently provided in Hamilton, which would include a cardiologist, a cardiac medical technician and administrative support.

Mr Green said the service was also focusing on stroke.

“For stroke it is always the same message — go straight to hospital, do not wait to ring the GP or wait to see if it gets better. It won’t go away.

“Go to the hospital or ring 111. Absolutely, come to the hospital.”

Difficulties in isolated areas

Hiki Pihema and Meredith Akuhata-Brown said there could be difficulties for people living in isolated areas such as on the East Coast in immediately accessing hospital care.

Mrs Akuhata-Brown said costs could still be an issue for some when deciding whether to seek primary health care. Mr Green and HAC members discussed how people led busy lives where they often prioritised other commitments above their health.

Prue Younger asked where the public could get basic health information.

Mr Green said patients enrolled with GPs had a relationship with a primary provider, but the quality of the relationship could vary between patients.

There were lifestyle issues such as diet and exercise, and educational issues such as understanding the significance of chest pain.

There had been significant progress, but much work remained to be done.

The approach of the new Hauora Tairawhiti with the young meant the health statistics of the region could be changed for the better in future, he said.

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