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Key Statistics: Risk factors for heart disease

Key takeaways

Many different risk factors increase your likelihood of developing Cardiovascular disease (CVD).

2 min read

There are many different risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing a heart disease, such as cardiovascular disease.  

Explore the latest statistics relating to heart disease risk factors below. 

Medical Risk Factors

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (or hypertension) is a common condition of the circulatory system and is widely recognised as the leading risk factor for CVD¹

  • One third of adults have high blood pressure²
  • However, only 5 per cent of adults nominate high blood pressure as a key risk factor for heart disease.³

High Cholesterol4

High blood cholesterol⁴ is a significant risk factor for developing Cardiovascular disease

  • Two in five adults are living with high cholesterol2
  • Only 8% of adults nominate high cholesterol as a key risk factor for heart disease3

 

Lifestyle Risk Factors

Modifiable risk factors (e.g. cigarette smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet) contribute significantly to the risk of CVD.

Being Overweight or Obese2

You’re classified overweight if your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or over. 

  • Two in three adults are overweight or obese³
  • Three in ten adults believe that being overweight is a key risk factor in heart disease³

Smoking2

The smoking statistics below are in regards to ‘current smokers’, which is defined as a person that smokes daily, weekly, or less than weekly. 
  • Almost 3 million people over 15 years are current smokers
  • Smoking rates are down overall but increasing in males 25-34 years
  • Thirty-seven per cent of adults believe that smoking is a key risk factor in heart disease3

Physical Inactivity2

Physical inactivity refers to a combination of inactivity, based on reported exercise and workplace activity.
  • Four in five adults do not meet national guides for physical activity including exercise⁹
  • One in seven do no form of physical activity and this is rising
  • Just over two in five adults believe that being inactive is a key risk factor in heart disease3

Alcohol Consumption2

  • More than 3 million adults exceed alcohol consumption guidelines¹¹
  • Men are twice as likely to exceed the guidelines
  • Only 13% of adults believe that alcohol consumption is a key risk factor in heart disease3

Diet

  • Adults not meeting the recommended intake for vegetables5 has increased over the past two decades to 92 per cent.
  • Improving vegetable intake to meet the recommended 5 serves per day is estimated to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 16%



Referencces

¹ Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation 2018, Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 (GBD 2017) Results, Global Burden of Disease collective Network, Seattle, available from http://ghdx.healthdata.org/gbd-results-tool
² Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, National Health Survey 2017-18, Data customised using TableBuilder.
³ HeartWatch Survey June 2019
 Prevalence of high cholesterol is defined as all Australian adults that had high measured total cholesterol, and/or self-reported as having high cholesterol.
5Heart Foundation Dietary Position Statement 2019

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