I am
Show me:
Show me:
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

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

You might also be interested in

Key Statistics: Heart Disease in Australia

Key Statistics: Heart Disease in Australia

Statistics and information on heart disease prevalence, mortality and hospitalisations....

Australian Heart Maps

Australian Heart Maps

Australian Heart Maps

Our Heart Maps allow you to take a closer look at heart disease indicators across Australia....

Interactive Australian Heart Maps

Interactive Australian Heart Maps

Compare heart health indicators across Australia...

Interactive Victorian Heart Maps

Interactive Victorian Heart Maps

Compare heart health indicators across Victoria...

Key Statistics: Cardiovascular Disease

Key Statistics: Cardiovascular Disease

Key data and statistics about CVD....

Key Statistics: Coronary Heart Disease

Key Statistics: Coronary Heart Disease

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join the Heart Foundation community. Together, we can make a real difference for Australian hearts. ...

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

Cooking at home is often healthier than eating out....

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

The NSW Cardiac Rehabilitation Working Group

The NSW Cardiac Rehabilitation Working Group

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

Looking to claim your donations in your tax return this financial year?...

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Physical activity and exercise can do wonders for your physical and mental health....

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

If you have a heart condition, your doctor may recommend treatment or procedures...

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Find heart healthy Italian recipes....

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

Pauline is a nurse and shares advice for young people who have had a heart event or are recovering from surgery....

Food and nutrition position statements

Food and nutrition position statements

Food and nutrition position statements

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Training Centre

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Training Centre

Training to support identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, in line with standard practice....

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Improving the design of our cities, towns, streets and buildings makes it easier for Australians to lead heart-healthy lives....

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

We've been working on several projects with local governments across Tasmania, big and small....

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Honour the life of a loved one with a donation to the Heart Foundation. Your donation offers hope for Australian hearts....

Supporting SA cardiac patients and health professionals with free resources

Supporting SA cardiac patients and health professionals with free resources

Supporting SA cardiac patients and health professionals with free resources

We want to make it easier for South Australians to lead heart-healthy lives....

Jump Rope for Heart

Jump Rope for Heart

Jump Rope for Heart

Jump Rope for Heart teaches school children how to keep fit and healthy through skipping!...

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

The program works with local communities to improve heart healthcare in Pilbara communities...

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

If you're 45 and over, or 30 and over if you're of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, you should book your Heart Health Check today...

Managing your funding

Managing your funding

Managing your funding

Resources to help manage your grant, scholarship or fellowship....

Practice Nurse Survey 2020

Practice Nurse Survey 2020

This survey has been designed to collect feedback from practice nurses about their awareness and use of Heart Foundation materials....

Wholegrains and heart health

Wholegrains and heart health

Wholegrains and heart health

All you need to know about wholegrains to put you on the right track...

Absolute CVD risk clinical guidelines

Absolute CVD risk clinical guidelines

The Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk (CVD) Guidelines helps healthcare professionals identify, prevent and manage a person's risk of developing CVD. ...

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

Find out what a healthy body weight is and the steps you can take to achieve it. ...