Key heart health facts

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The Heart Foundation has collated this data to provide an overall picture of heart health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The figures listed below provide a general overview; the Heart Foundation encourages Australians to be informed and empowered when looking to contribute to meaningful and lasting positive changes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

  • Life expectancy

    • The life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males is 69.1 years; this is more than 10 years lower than that for non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.
    • The life expectancy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females are slightly better. Their life expectancy is 73.7 years; this is 9.5 years lower than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females.
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and heart failure)

    • Cardiovascular disease (heart, stroke and blood vessel disease) is the most common cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and accounts for 25% of all deaths. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are 1.5 times more likely to die from these conditions than non-Indigenous Australians.
    • In 2012 – 2013, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were 60% more likely to be hospitalised due to cardiovascular disease than other Australians.
    • One in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a long-term cardiovascular disease.
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular disease)

    • In 2016 stroke was responsible for more than 3% of adult deaths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.2 times more likely to die from cerebrovascular disease than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Heart disease

    • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. 344 people lost their lives to the disease in 2016.
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.8 times more likely to die from heart disease than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Heart failure

    • In 2016, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were 1.4 times more likely to die from heart failure than other Australians.
  • High blood pressure

    • In 2012 – 2013, more than 63,000, or 20%, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 18 and over had uncontrolled, high blood pressure.
    • The rates of high blood pressure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 16% higher than those for other Australians; the rates are 6% higher for people aged 18 – 24 and 37% higher for people aged over 55.
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.2 times more likely to have high blood pressure when compared to non-Indigenous Australians.
  • High blood fats (cholesterol)

    • In 2012 – 2013, more than 91,000, or 25%, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 18 years and over had high cholesterol levels.
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men were more likely to have high cholesterol levels than women; 27.4% as compared with 22.7%.
    • Rates of high cholesterol were greater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in non-remote areas as compared to remote areas; 25.5% compared with 23.4%.
  • Health body (defined as being overweight

    • In 2012 – 2013, more than 90,000, or 29%, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians aged 18 years and over didn’t have a healthy body.
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men were more likely to be overweight and not have a healthy body as compared with women; 31% compared with 27%.
  • Nutrition (inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption)

    • 97% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 and over do not eat the daily recommended intake of fruit and vegetables.
    • 98% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities do not eat the daily recommended intake of fruit and vegetables. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in non-remote communities, the figure is 97%.
  • Smoking

    • 43% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 and over smoke cigarettes.
    • 95% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke cigarettes smoke daily.
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 2.4 times more likely to smoke cigarettes than non-Indigenous Australians.
    • 54% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in remote areas smoke. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in non-remote communities, the figure is 40%.