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Introducing the Heart Foundation Six Steps to Cardiac Recovery e-learning module, designed to support nurses and facilitate effective bedside education after an acute coronary syndrome diagnosis.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which encompasses heart, stroke and blood vessel disease, is the leading cause of death in Australia.1 CVD impacts 4 million Australians and accounts for almost 30% of all deaths each year.2 In addition to the burden of disease, CVD is affecting our community and is a costly disease to treat, costing the healthcare system $10.4 billion of our annual healthcare budget.3 One of the types of CVD, acute coronary syndromes (ACS), includes patients that have had a myocardial infarction and/or angina diagnosis.

Effective disease management after an ACS event is essential but infrequently implemented due to challenges around the research evidence and its translation. Health professionals are confronted with finite resources and secondary prevention literature has evolved into a complex web of differing models offered to diverse patient populations in an array of settings. Translating this research to patients in a way that meets health literacy standards becomes a further challenge.4 For our ACS patients, just under half (42.6%) are readmitted to hospital with a second event, which indicates there needs to be strengthened secondary prevention support for our patients.5

Providing secondary prevention support is challenging due to the fact that 60% of Australians have low health literacy levels, making it difficult for them to access, understand and use health information in ways that benefit their health.6,7

The Heart Foundation Six Steps to Cardiac Recovery e-learning module (Six Steps e-learning) has been developed to upskill cardiac nurses to effectively support ACS patients by articulating their patient education in a health literate manner and following six simple steps.

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How Six Steps e-learning helps address CV care gaps

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the health system and changed the way in which our patients engage with their health and health practitioners. A recent survey of Australian General Practitioners found that 73% of practices had a reduction in booked appointments during the early days of the pandemic in April/May 2020.8 Whilst this change in healthcare behaviour was perhaps understandable early in the pandemic, it is concerning and there are some potential gaps in chronic disease management. CVD has been under-prioritised during the pandemic, so now is the time to rectify this and help your patients better manage their chronic health conditions. The Six Steps e-learning is a vital resource to help nurses educate patients who are recovering from an ACS diagnosis.

The Heart Foundation’s Heart Attack Patient Survey 2020 found that patients value conversations about their health. There is a strong demand from patients who have had a heart attack to receive information on taking medication, managing high blood pressure, returning to everyday activities, nutrition and exercise.9 These are all core components of secondary prevention covered in the Six Steps e-learning. This tool will help support those conversations with your patients to be equipped for their cardiac recovery journey. The greatest gains we have to make in the long-term health of cardiac patient’s is to support them in secondary prevention.

What to expect from Six Steps e-learning

The Six Steps e-learning sets the scene with background information on health literacy and an effective method to educate patients using the teach back method. It then expands on the Six Steps to Cardiac Recovery Conversation Guide and covers the following key topics:

  1. Diagnosis/procedure
  2. Highlight the risk factors relevant to the patient
  3. Emphasise the importance of cardiac rehabilitation
  4. Promote medication adherence
  5. Educate on the warning signs of a heart attack. 6 Encourage follow up with your doctor

The module also equips health professionals with a practical toolkit for patient education, which includes the My Heart, My Life free support program. The program currently offers enrolled patients and carers two information booklets, along with text message and email support over 6 months.

The Six Steps e-learning is endorsed by the ACRA and contributes to annual continuing professional development points. It also aligns with the National Safety and Quality Health Standards two and six.

Health professionals who have already completed the module report increased knowledge and confidence in their education discussions.

“All relevant topics were covered on this online learning module. Content was clear and concise; animations made learning enjoyable between each topic. I would highly recommend this learning module to my colleagues.”

“It should be essential for every nurse in the cardiac care setting.”

You can complete the learning yourself on desktop or mobile devices, over multiple days. The engaging content is delivered via videos, visual graphics and quizzes, catering to different learning styles.

Watch this video for an overview, or start learning today:


  1. Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. Global Burden of Disease Study [Internet]. Seattle: Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network; 2018. Available from:
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics [Internet]. Canberra: ABS; October 2020. Causes of Death, [cited 2019 Sep 20]. Available from:
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [Internet]. Australia: AIHW; June 2019. Disease Expenditure in Australia, [Cited 2019 Sep 20]. Available from:
  4. Redfern J, Maiorana, A, Neubeck L, Clark A, Briffa T. Achieving coordinated secondary prevention of coronary heart disease for all in need (SPAN). International Journal of Cardiology [Internet]. 2011 January [cited 2019 Sep 20], 146 (1). Available from:
  5. Oliveira L, Costa I, Silva D, Silva J, Barreto-Filho J, Almeida-Santos M, Oliveira J, Buarque M, Vieira D, Sousa Readmission of Patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome and Determinants. Journal of Brazilian Society of Cardiology. 2019 July. [cited 2019 Sep 20]. 113(1) 42-49. Available from:
  6. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care [Internet]. Sydney: Australian Commission on Safety and Quality; 2017. National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards; [cited 2019 Sep 20]. Available from:
  7. Stronger evidence, better decisions, improved health and welfare [Internet]. Australia: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; 2022, Health literacy. Available from:
  8. Kippen R, O’Sullivan B, Hickson H, A national survey of COVID-19 challenges, responses and effects in Australian general practice. Aust J Gen Pract [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2019 Sep 20]. 49 (11) 745–51. Available from:
  9. Heart Foundation, Heart Foundation Heart Attack Patient Survey, 2020.