Heart Foundation highlights burden of cardiovascular disease

Peter Terlato 14 September 2016

CVD cardiovascular disease heart problem

Aussies oblivious to heart problems.

The latest biennial health report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) suggests that most Aussies believe they're in tip top shape. However, the Heart Foundation reveals cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a serious health concern for many Australians.

Heart Foundation CEO Adjunct Professor John Kelly stresses that CVD – principally heart, stroke and blood vessel disease – is a major treat to the health and wellbeing of Australians.

“The Heart Foundation has led the way in funding successful research, prevention and treatment that has led to decades of declining cardiovascular death rates, but results evident here indicate complacency amongst the whole community," Kelly said.

According to the report, while 85% of Australians rate their health as excellent, good or very good, we don’t get enough exercise, obesity rates are increasing and we need more veggies in our diet.

Chronic disease is the leading cause of illness, disability and death in Australia with one in two adults suffering ailments such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Past reports show coronary heart disease kills more Australians than any other medical condition.

Many of the most frequently used prescription drugs in Australia are taken to combat high blood pressure, heart failure, rising cholesterol levels and stable coronary artery disease.

Around 70% of kids (5-11 years) and 90% of young people (12-17 years) aren't meeting physical activity recommendations, while almost three quarters of children (9-13 years) consume too much sugar.

Shockingly, 93% of Australian adults had inadequate vegetable consumption in 2014-15. While these rates have remained relatively stable since 2007–08, the figure is alarmingly high.

Hospital spending is highest for CVD. In 2012-13 Australia spent around $5 billion on CVD patients. This represents an increase of around $1 billion over the last 10 years.

CVD rates increase with remoteness. In major cities it is 4.7%, while in regional/remote areas it's 5.8%.

Given Australia's ageing population, Professor Kelly believes governments must invest more in prevention methods, particularly practices which detect those at high risk of heart attacks and stroke through an integrated health check system.

"By addressing these measures our nation’s heart health and quality of life will improve, which in turn will reduce hospital admissions and ease pressure on hard-pressed health budgets," Kelly said.

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