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Cardiovascular disease includes all heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and diseases of the arteries, arterioles and capillaries. Ischaemic heart disease and stroke were the leading causes of burden of disease in Australia in 1996; together these conditions account for nearly 18% of healthy life lost through premature death or disability (AIHW 2000a).
In 1999, 40% (51,303) of all deaths were due to diseases of the circulatory system (the ICD-10 Chapter IX classifications I00-I99 that include cardiovascular disease). Ischaemic heart disease accounted for 22% of all deaths, and cerebrovascular diseases a further 10%. Between 1989 and 1999, age-standardised death rates for diseases of the circulatory system declined by 36% for males (from 433 per 100,000 persons, to 275), 35% for females (from 282 to 182) and 36% in total (from 349 to 225).
National statistics on deaths of Indigenous people are not available because of incomplete recording of Indigenous status in the death records of some States and Territories. However, in 1999 data on deaths were considered to be of acceptable quality for Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. In that year, the leading cause of death among the Indigenous populations in these four jurisdictions was diseases of the circulatory system, which accounted for 29% of all Indigenous male deaths, and 31% of all Indigenous female deaths.The median age of Indigenous persons who died from circulatory diseases was 59 years, compared with 82 years for non-Indigenous persons (based on deaths from these States and the Northern Territory).