Aboriginal Healthy Hearts


Due to the rapidly-evolving COVID-19 situation, the service delivery component of the Aboriginal Healthy Hearts Program is suspended. We hope to recommence service delivery in December 2021, pending Public Health Orders.

Data collection for enrolled participants will continue during this time. Aboriginal patients with cardiac conditions will be referred to the general Cardiac Rehabilitation services, and can also be supported over the phone by an Aboriginal Health Worker.

Strong Heart Strong Mob

The Aboriginal Healthy Hearts Feasibility Study has been funded from the Ministry of Health’s 2019 Translational Research Grant Scheme – Round 3.

This is a two-year project to evaluate the feasibility of an outreach, family-centred model of cardiac rehabilitation for Aboriginal people experiencing heart disease and their family members residing in the Illawarra Shoalhaven.  

An intensive eight-week program of cardiac rehabilitation based on the National Heart Foundation of Australia Recommended Framework for Cardiac Rehabilitation 2004, followed by a series of follow-up appointments will be delivered.  Aboriginal people who have recently experienced a heart condition with subsequent presentation to a public hospital as well as their family members aged 15 years or older will be eligible to participate.

The program will focus on exercise, healthy eating, health education, and support with tackling harmful lifestyle practices, such as tobacco and alcohol use.  It will be led by Aboriginal Health Workers supported by a multidisciplinary team and can be delivered in a community based setting.

The feasibility study will assess whether the family centred, outreach model will improve uptake and completion of a secondary cardiac prevention program for Aboriginal patients discharged from hospital as well as inform culturally appropriate secondary prevention techniques for Aboriginal communities diagnosed with heart disease. The study will also contribute to the community management and prevention of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and kidney disease

The impact of COVID-19 meant that the recruitment of patients (Index case) was suspended in April 2020. At the time of suspension, the first 6 month recruitment phase, data collection and service provider interviews had been completed. 

The Project team have revised the timeline to ensure the Feasibility study is completed within the approved funding timeframe. Revisions include a further 6 month recruitment phase and a reduction in the patient follow up from 12 to 6 months.

The 8-week program was delivered in two x 6 month patient recruitment phases from September 2019 to April 2020, and will again be delivered from January to June 2021.  Following participation in the program, focus groups will be held to assess the acceptability by Aboriginal families of the outreach program. 

The St Vincent’s Hospital Aboriginal Heart Health resource provides culturally appropriate educational materials and will be promoted as part of the program.

Further information about the project is available by emailing the Project Manager - ISLHD-AboriginalHealthyHearts@health.nsw.gov.au

Aboriginal artwork for Healthy Hearts Project

The above artwork entitled 'LIFE' by local Shoalhaven artist, Aunty Cecily Wellington-Carpenter, portrays the complexities of heart disease and its impact on community.