Chronic disease and COVID-19

If you're wondering about COVID-19 vaccination or how to manage your chronic condition during the pandemic, our members have helplines and websites to answer questions about chronic conditions and COVID-19.

  • Kidney Helpline 1800 454 363 and website

  • StrokeLine 1800 787 653 and website

  • Cancer Council 13 11 20 and website

  • Diabetes NDSS Helpline 1800 637 700 and website

  • Heart Foundation website

  • Lung Foundation Australia 1800 654 301 and website

Nearly 1 in 2 Australians have a chronic disease and may be at increased risk of complications due to COVID-19.

Please take simple steps to protect yourself and others in the community:

  • wearing a mask indoors or as recommended

  • handwashing regularly

  • staying home if you are unwell

  • physical distancing and avoiding crowded spaces

  • getting vaccines or boosters when eligible.

It is important to keep managing chronic conditions during this time. Some conditions like heart attack or stroke require immediate medical attention by calling an ambulance (000). Other conditions can be managed with ongoing consultations and you may be able to access telehealth appointments.

 

If you're concerned about your health or you notice changes, don't delay in seeking a GP health check or cancer screening to catch chronic conditions early and improve treatment options.

The impact of COVID-19 on major chronic conditions

Chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and chronic kidney disease, have been associated with increased risk of COVID-19-related complications. There is growing evidence of the long-term effects of COVID on vital organs, like heart and kidneys, which will require ongoing monitoring and management to prevent disease progression and serious damage.

COVID-19 has led to lower health checks, cancer screening and management, and delays in seeking care

  • Around 27,000 Heart Health Checks have been missed during the pandemic, which could have prevented 350 heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular-disease deaths in the next 5 years. 

  • The number of new cancer diagnoses decreased in Victoria, which is largely attributed to the decrease in cancer screening and assessments during the pandemic.

  • The number of people completing Annual Cycle of Care diabetes health checks has fallen by 45% from pre-pandemic levels. There is an increased risk of diabetes following COVID-19.

  • There are reports of people delaying calling an ambulance when they have experienced a stroke, due to concerns of catching COVID-19 in hospital.

  • COVID-19 infection is associated with greater risk of acute kidney injury, decline in kidney function, kidney failure, and major adverse kidney events.

See the Government website for the latest updates on COVID-19 in Australia.

Find out more about how ACDPA members work together to reduce the impact of chronic disease on Australians.