4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2013   
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Contents >> Biomedical Measures >> Cardiovascular disease (CVD) biomarkers


Cardiovascular disease remains one of the leading causes of death in Australia and is recognised as a national health priority. The onset of cardiovascular disease can be delayed or prevented through reducing risk factors such as lowering cholesterol, following a healthy diet and avoidance of smoking.

The main indicators of cardiovascular disease that were measured in the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS) were cholesterol, including total, high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL), and triglycerides. Another indicator that has been linked to cardiovascular disease, which was measured in the NHMS is Apolipoprotein B.

Self reported data on cardiovascular disease was also collected in the National Health Survey (NHS) and the National Nutritional and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS). The biomedical results from the NHMS can be used together with the self reported data to estimate disease prevalence rates. For details on self reported cardiovascular disease data, see the relevant heart and circulatory conditions chapter in this product.


Another indicator of cardiovascular disease that was reported in the NHMS is dyslipidaemia. Dyslipidaemia refers to a number of different lipid disorders (that is, conditions where there are too many fats in the blood). In the NHMS, dyslipidaemia was defined as having at least one abnormal test result of cholesterol (either total, HDL or LDL) or triglycerides or the person indicated that they look lipid-lowering medication. The results for this item were obtained from selected persons aged 12 years and over, who participated in the NHMS and fasted for 8 hours or more prior to providing a blood sample.

In the NHMS, a person was classified as having dyslipidaemia if they had one or more of the following:

  • Taking lipid-lowering medication
  • Total cholesterol greater than or equal to 5.5 mmol/L
  • HDL cholesterol less than 1.0 mmol/L for men and less than 1.3 mmol/L for women)
  • LDL cholesterol greater than or equal to 3.5 mmol/L
  • Triglycerides greater than or equal to 2.0 mmol/L.
Estimates of dyslipidaemia from the NHMS can be used to determine how many Australians have at least one lipid disorder and therefore have an increased risk of heart disease.

Comparability with other surveys

The NHMS is the first ABS survey to collect cardiovascular disease biomarkers.

Cardiovascular disease biomedical data has been collected in other non-ABS surveys. However, caution must be taken when interpreting results due to the differences in scope, assay and the instrument used, and any thresholds applied in the final analysis. Further information about these comparisons is available from the Comparisons with other Australian surveys section of the Biomedical Results for Chronic Diseases, 2011-12 publication.

More information regarding the biomedical tests and cut off points can be found in the relevant subsections.

This section contains the following subsection :
        Total cholesterol
        High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
        Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
        Apolipoprotein B (Apo B)

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