Heart attack fact sheet

Heart attack, also known as ‘acute myocardial infarction’ is a life-threatening event that occurs when a blood vessel supplying the heart itself is suddenly blocked completely, threatening to damage the heart muscle and its functions. (1)


Heart attack claimed 8,443 lives in 2015, or on average, 23 each day. (2)

From 2006 to 2015, the number of heart attack deaths fell by 27% from 11,519 to 8,443. (2)


Heart attacks were the main cause for over 54,000 hospitalisations in 2014/15. The number of hospital separations due to heart attack has increased by 15% from 2003/04 to 2014/15. (3)

The average length of stay has fallen by more than one day, from 6.1 to 4.6 days. (3)


It is estimated 430,000 Australians have had a heart attack at some time in their lives. (4)

More than 100,000 Australians who have had a heart attack are under the age of 65. (4)

Understanding heart attack

Overall, the majority (94%) of Australians believe that it is important to know what the signs and symptoms of a heart attack are. Furthermore, close to half of Australians (49%) believe that heart attack is personally relevant to them. (5)

One in two Australians (50%) believe they are confident in knowing what to do if faced with having a heart attack. (5)

In 2016, one in three Australians have known someone who has had a heart attack. (6)

Told by a doctor

In 2016, one million (13%) Australians aged 30 to 65 were told by a doctor that they have a high risk of having a heart attack. (5)

Life after a heart attack

A study in 2016 revealed one in two Australians who have had a heart attack continue to smoke after their heart attack. Of these, close to 40% did not even attempt to quit. (6)

Another concerning outcome post heart attack is one in four are not regularly taking their medication, with an additional one in three not having regular cholesterol checks, and more than one in four also not having regular blood pressure checks. (6)

Around one in three tried to increase their physical activity levels or lose weight, however failed to maintain the changes. (6)


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011. Cardiovascular disease: Australian facts 2011. Cardiovascular disease series. Cat. no. CVD 53. Canberra: AIHW.
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of death 2016 (3303.0). September 2016.
  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. Australian Health Survey 2014/2015.
  5. Heart Foundation. HeartWatch Survey 2016.
  6. Heart Foundation. Heart Attack Survey 2016.

Share this

Together with Prime Minister @TurnbullMalcolm, we are proud to announce the PM’s One million steps campaign, to enc… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…