4727.0.55.001 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia, 2012-13  
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Contents >> Long-term health conditions >> Heart and circulatory diseases


HEART AND CIRCULATORY DISEASES

Heart, stroke and vascular disease encompasses a range of circulatory conditions including ischaemic heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, oedema, heart failure, and diseases of the arteries, arterioles and capillaries. Most commonly this group of conditions is referred to under the broader term of 'heart disease' (or 'cardiovascular disease'). According to the 2003 Australian Burden of Disease Study, high blood cholesterol, which is closely associated with ischaemic heart disease and stroke, accounted for 6% of the burden of disease in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Cardiovascular disease was the leading specific cause of death (Endnote 1).

Hypertensive heart disease includes heart failure, thickening of the heart muscle and coronary heart disease. All of these heart conditions are caused by high blood pressure, that is, the heart working under increased pressure. According to the 2003 Australian Burden of Disease Study, high blood pressure accounts for 5% of the total burden of disease, and 10% of deaths (primarily due to ischaemic heart disease and stroke) in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population (Endnote 1).

Data presented below on heart and circulatory diseases are for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who reported having been told by a doctor or nurse that they had any of a range of circulatory conditions including ischaemic heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, oedema, heart failure, and diseases of the arteries, arterioles and capillaries and that the condition(s) were current.

More information on the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with heart disease, based on measured levels of blood lipids such as total cholesterol, will be available upon release of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Biomedical data in 2014.


RESULTS FROM 2012–13

In 2012–13, around one in eight (12%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having heart disease.

A significantly higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females than males had heart disease in 2012–13 (13% compared with 11%).

Within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, the proportion of people with heart disease generally increased with age, ranging from 2% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–14 years to around four in ten (42%) of those aged 55 years and over.

HEART AND CIRCULATORY DISEASES BY AGE, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—2012–13
Graph: Heart and circulatory diseases


In 2012–13, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas were significantly more likely than those in non-remote areas to have reported having heart disease (17% compared with 11%).

Heart, stroke and vascular disease

In 2012–13, one in twenty-five (4%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported heart, stroke and/or vascular diseases.

The prevalence of heart, stroke and vascular diseases was the same for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and females (both 4%).

Within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, heart, stroke and vascular disease were prevalent from about 35 years of age onwards. One in twenty (5%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 35–44 years reported heart, stroke or vascular disease, compared with around one in ten (11%) of those aged 45–54 years, and around one in five (19%) of those aged 55 years and over.

Hypertensive disease

In 2012–13, one in twenty (5%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported hypertensive heart disease.

The prevalence of hypertensive heart disease was the same for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and females (both 5%).

Within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, hypertensive heart disease was prevalent from about 25 years of age onwards, with higher rates in older age groups. Around one in ten (11%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25 years and over had hypertensive heart disease, with rates ranging from 4% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25–34 years to 20% of those aged 55 years and over.
CHANGE OVER TIME

Between 2001 and 2012–13, the overall prevalence of heart disease in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population had a statistically significant change from 11% to 12%. While rates for heart disease rose in both non-remote and remote areas over the past decade, the increase in non-remote areas was not statistically significant. In remote areas, the reported rates increased significantly (from 12% to 17%) over this period.

Graph Image for Heart and circulatory diseases, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 2001 to 2012-13

Footnote(s): (a) Difference between 2001 and 2012-13 is not statistically significant. (b) Difference between 2004-05 and 2012-13 is not statistically significant.

Source(s): 2012-13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey and 2004–05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey and 2001 National Health Survey, Indigenous supplement.



HOW DO THESE RATES COMPARE WITH THE RATES FOR NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE?

After adjusting for differences in age structure between the two populations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were significantly more likely than non-Indigenous people to have heart or circulatory diseases (rate ratio of 1.2). There were also statistically significant differences in the age standardised rates for both males and females (both rate ratios of 1.2).

The rates for heart and circulatory diseases for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were significantly higher than the comparable rates for non-Indigenous people in all age groups from 15–54 years.

Graph Image for Heart and circulatory diseases, by Indigenous status and age

Footnote(s): (a) Difference between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous rate is not statistically significant.

Source(s): 2012-13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey and 2011-12 Australian Health Survey


Heart, stroke and vascular disease

After adjusting for differences in age structure between the two populations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were significantly more likely than non-Indigenous people to have reported heart, stroke or vascular disease (rate ratio of 1.6). There were statistically significant differences in the age standardised rates for both females (rate ratio of 1.8) and males (rate ratio of 1.5).

The rates for heart, stroke and vascular disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were significantly higher than the comparable rates for non-Indigenous people in all age groups from 35 years onwards.

HEART, STROKE AND VASCULAR DISEASE by Indigenous status and age(a)—2012–13
Graph: Heart, Stroke and Vascular Disease

Hypertensive disease

After adjusting for differences in age structure between the two populations, the prevalence of hypertensive heart disease in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations was similar (rate ratio of 0.9). This was true for both males and females (both rate ratios of 0.9)

Data show the earlier onset of hypertensive heart disease in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, with higher rates at younger ages than for non-Indigenous people. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25–34 years were more than three times as likely as non-Indigenous people to have hypertensive heart disease, the gap narrowed to a ratio of 1.2 for the 45–54 year age group. Among older Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were around half as likely as non-Indigenous people to have hypertensive heart disease (rate ratio of 0.6 for those aged 55 years and over).

HYPERTENSIVE HEART DISEASE by Indigenous status and age(a)—2012–13
Graph: Hypertensive Heart Disease

ENDNOTE

1. Vos T, Barker B, Stanley L, Lopez AD 2007. The Burden of Disease and Injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2003, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane.

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