Heart disease in Australia

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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. [5]
  • 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]
  • Most people 65 years or over are currently living with long-term CVD. [1]
  • 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

  • Is the single leading cause of death in Australia. [1]
  • In 2014/2015, close to three per cent of the population reported having a long-term CHD condition, accounting for 620,000 Australians. [4]
  • 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

Close to three quarters (73%), of Australians aged 30 to 65 years reported having been told by their doctor they have at least one risk factor for heart disease. [4]

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). [5]
  • In 2011/12, one third of adult Australians aged 18 years and over had measured high cholesterol. This represents 5.6 million adult Australians. [6]

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. [5]
  • 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. [5]
  • In 2014/15, more two in every three (65%) of adult Australians aged over 15 do very little or no exercise at all. [5]

Find out more about risk factors for heart disease

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. National Heart Foundation, 2017. HeartWatch Survey, customised data, April 2018.
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016, National Health Survey: First results, 2014-15, ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001, March. Data customised using TableBuilder;
  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, National Health Survey: First results, 2011-12, ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001, October. Data customised using TableBuilder.