Cardiovascular risk profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

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Mortality

In 2017, 12% of total deaths amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were caused by heart disease. (1)

Compared with non-Indigenous Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were 70% more likely to die from circulatory diseases. (2)

Hospitalisation (3)

Ischaemic heart disease was the most common cause of CVD related hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory combined.

Hospitalisation for ischaemic heart disease was two times higher for Indigenous males and three times higher for Indigenous females than non-Indigenous Australians.

Hospitalisation for rheumatic heart disease was four times higher for Indigenous males and nine times higher for Indigenous females than non-Indigenous Australians.

Prevalence of heart and circulatory conditions (4)

In 2012/13, 12% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples reported having a diagnosed circulatory condition. Compared with non-Indigenous Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were 20% more likely to report having a circulatory condition.

Since 2001, there has been a significant increase in Indigenous Australians reporting having a diagnosed circulatory condition.

 

2001

2004/05

2012/13

% heart and circulatory conditions

10.5%

11.8%

12.0%

Clinical risk factors

Blood pressure (4)

In 2012/13, more than 63,000 or 20% of Indigenous Australians aged 18 years and over had unmanaged or uncontrolled high blood pressure (140/90mmHg or higher). When age-standardised, this was 16% higher than non-Indigenous Australians.

Age group

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Non-Indigenous

18–24

6.0%

5.3%

25–34*

13.6%

8.9%

35–44*

25.0%

14.8%

45–54

30.1%

25.4%

55+

36.5%

37.6%

*significant difference

Lifestyle risk factors

Smokers (4)

In 2012/13, two in every five (43%) Indigenous Australians aged 15 years and over smoked, 95% of whom smoked daily. When age-standardised, this was 2.4 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians. Smoking rates for Indigenous Australians were significantly higher across all age groups.

Age group

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Non-Indigenous

15–17

19.0%

5.4%

18–24

44.7%

18.8%

25–34*

54.6%

22.8%

35–44*

48.9%

20.1%

45–54

48.5%

20.8%

55+

27.0%

10.8%

Over the past decade, the proportion of Indigenous Australians who smoke has decreased by 19%. However, this fall has been much greater for Indigenous Australians living in non-remote than in remote areas.

 

2002

2008

2012/13

% current smokers (non-remote)

50.0%

44.7%

40.3%

% current smokers (remote)

53.3%

52.9%

52.4%

% current smokers (total)

50.9%

46.8%

43.0%

Overweight (4)

In 2012/13, more than 90,000 (29%) Indigenous Australians aged 18 and over were overweight. When age-standardised, they were 18% less likely than non-Indigenous Australians to be overweight.

Indigenous males were more likely than females to be overweight (31% vs. 27%).

Age group

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Non-Indigenous

15–17

20.6%

16.9%

18–24*

27.9%

21.7%

25–34*

29.0%

34.0%

35–44*

28.8%

36.6%

45–54

32.3%

39.1%

55+

29.8%

39.2%

*significant difference

Obesity (4)

In 2012/13, more than 120,000 (39%) Indigenous Australians aged 18 and over were obese. When age-standardised, they were 53% more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to be obese.

Indigenous females were significantly more likely than males to be obese (43% vs. 36%). 

Age group

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Non-Indigenous

15–17*

15.8%

7.4%

18–24*

27.0%

14.4%

25–34*

36.5%

20.4%

35–44*

47.3%

28.2%

45–54*

42.2%

31.9%

55+*

47.4%

33.6%

*significant difference

Waist circumference (4)

For Indigenous males, 60% were at risk of chronic disease based on waist circumference measurements (>94cm). For those who were overweight or obese, 84% had a waist circumference measurement in the ‘at risk’ categories.

For Indigenous females, 81% were at risk of chronic disease based on waist circumference measurements (>80cm). For those who were overweight or obese, 98% had a waist circumference measurement in the ‘at risk’ categories.

Sedentary behaviour in non-remote areas (4)

In 2012/13, three in five Indigenous Australians living in non-remote areas had sedentary or low levels of exercise (61%). When age-standardised, Indigenous Australians were 10% more likely to have sedentary or low levels of exercise.

Like non-Indigenous Australians, Indigenous females were more likely to have sedentary/low levels of exercise than males (68% vs. 53%).

Physical activity guidelines for Australian adults (4)

Based on the National Physical Activity guidelines for Australian adults (18 years and over), 41% of Indigenous Australians in non-remote areas exercised for 150 minutes per week and had five or more sessions. Once again, this was higher for males than females (45% vs. 38%).

Indigenous Australians were 10% less likely to meet these guidelines than non-Indigenous Australians.

Inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption (4)

The majority (97%) of Indigenous Australians aged 18 years and over did not meet the daily recommended intake for fruit and vegetables, higher than the national average of 94%. There was only a slight difference between Indigenous Australians living in remote and non-remote areas (98% vs. 97%).

Age group

Inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption

15–17

96.5%

18–34

97.9%

34–49

98.1%

50+

94.0%

In 2012/13, 43% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 18 years and over consumed two or more serves of fruit per day (the recommended daily intake), while 5% met the recommended daily intake of vegetables (5 or more serves).

References

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of death 2017 (3303.0). September 2018.
  2. Australian Health Minister’s Advisory Council 2012, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2012 Report, AHMAC, Canberra.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009. Expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2006–07. Health and welfare expenditure series no. 39. Cat. no. HWE 48. Canberra: AIHW.
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results.