Heart disease in Australia

Cardiovascular disease, heart disease and heart attack

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of death in Australia, with 43,963 deaths attributed to CVD in Australia in 2016. Cardiovascular disease kills one Australian every 12 minutes. (1)

Cardiovascular disease is one of Australia's largest health problems. Despite improvements over the last few decades, it remains one of the biggest burdens on our economy. (2)

Cardiovascular disease

  • Is heart, stroke and blood vessel diseases. (2)
  • Kills one Australian every 12 minutes. (1)
  • Affects one in six Australians or 4.2 million. (1)
  • Most people 65 years or over are currently living with long-term CVD. (1)
  • CVD was the main cause for 490,000 hospitalisations in 2014/15. (3)
  • Claimed the lives of 43,963 Australians (nearly 30% of all deaths) in 2016 - deaths that are largely preventable. (4)
  • Lower socioeconomic groups, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those living in remote areas had the highest rate of hospitalisation and death resulting from CVD in Australia. (2)

Heart disease

  • In 2014/2015, three per cent of the population reported having a long-term CHD condition, accounting for 591,800 Australians. (4)
  • Is the single leading cause of death in Australia. (1)
  • Claimed the lives of 19,077 Australians (12% of all deaths) in 2016. (1)
  • 52 Australians died every day from heart disease in 2016, or heart disease was responsible for a death every 30 minutes. (1)
  • Whilst heart disease was the underlying cause of 19,077 deaths in 2016, as an underlying and contributing cause, heart disease was a factor in nearly one in four deaths in 2016 (22% or 34,810). (1)

Heart attack

  • It is estimated over 400,000 Australians have had a heart attack at some time in their lives. (4)
  • Each year, around 54,000 Australians suffer a heart attack.  This equates to one heart attack every 10 minutes. (3)
  • In 2016, an average of 22 Australians died from a heart attack each day, this is equivalent to one death from a heart attack every 66 minutes. (1)

More information

Risk factors

Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, low fruit and vegetable intake, alcohol and smoking. Nine in 10 adult Australians have at least one risk factor for CVD and one in four (25%) have three or more risk factors.

Below are some of the statistics on risk factors:

Clinical risk factors

  • In 2014/15, 6 million adult Australians (34%) aged 18 years and over had high blood pressure (systolic or diastolic blood pressure is equal to or greater than 140/90 mmHg or taking medication). (4)
  • In 2011/12, one third of adult Australians aged 18 years and over had measured high cholesterol. This represents 5.6 million adult Australians. (5)

Lifestyle risk factors

  • Smoking is the single most important cause of ill health and death in Australia. In 2014/15, one in seven Australians aged 15 years and over smoked daily. (4)
  • In 2014/15, close to two in every three (63%) adult Australians aged 18 years and over were overweight or obese, with 28% obese and 36% overweight. (4)
  • In 2014/15, more two in every three (65%) of adult Australians aged over 15 do very little or no exercise at all. (4)

More information


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Causes of Death 2016, ABS cat. no. 3303.0, September;
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011. Cardiovascular disease: Australian facts 2011. Cardiovascular disease series. Cat. no. CVD 53. Canberra: AIHW.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. Australian hospital statistics 2014–15. Health services series no. 54. Cat. no. HSE 145. Canberra: AIHW.
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016, National Health Survey: First results, 2014-15, ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001, March. Data customised using TableBuilder;
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, National Health Survey: First results, 2011-12, ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001, October. Data customised using TableBuilder.

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Heart Foundation publication

Australian heart disease statistics 2014

Documents the current and recent burden of heart disease, including risk factors and comorbidities. For the first time in Australia, national data relating to cardiovascular disease has been brought together in a single comprehensive resource.

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