Heart disease linked to disadvantage, new figures confirm

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New figures show the raw reality of inequity when it comes to Australians affected by our country’s single leading cause of death - heart disease.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Australia's Health 2018 report, launched today by Health Minister Greg Hunt, found that heart disease was the single leading cause of death in Australia, with 170 Australians aged 25 years and over having a heart attack every day.

Heart Foundation’s General Manager of Heart Health & Research, health economist Bill Stavreski said heart disease remains the biggest contributor to the disease burden in Australia.

“The report showed that 40% of heart disease deaths in Australia in 2016 were a result of a heart attack, with heart disease rating the leading cause of disease for Australian males aged 45-95 and Australian women aged 65-84.

“It also shows that Australia falls behind countries such as Denmark, Japan, Spain and Portugal who all reported lower death rates from heart disease than Australia – with Japan recording the lowest heart disease death rate in the developed world – less than half that of Australia.”

But, of grave importance was the inequitable way heart disease affects Australia’s Indigenous population and those living in remote or disadvantaged communities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were up to three times likely to have heart disease, three times likely to have a heart event, and twice as likely to die from heart disease when compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts. And Australians living in remote or very remote areas did not fare much better.

Remote Australians were more than twice as likely to have heart disease than their city peers, while Australians in the most disadvantaged areas were more than twice as likely to have heart disease than those in the highest socioeconomic areas.

To speak to Bill Stavreski, contact Fleur Jacobs, National Media Adviser, Heart Foundation, 0427 591 638, fleur.jacobs@heartfoundation.org.au

About the Heart Foundation

The Heart Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to fighting the single biggest killer of Australians – heart disease. For close to 60 years, its led the battle to save lives and improve the heart health of all Australians. Its sights are set on a world where people don’t suffer or die prematurely because of heart disease. To find out more about the Heart Foundation’s research program or to make a donation, visit www.heartfoundation.org.au or call 13 11 12.