Feature Article - Heart and Stroke Facts 1995
In July 1995, the National Heart Foundation of Australia released a report titled ‘Heart and Stroke Facts 1995’. Heart attack and stroke remain the major cause of death in Australia and people living in Tasmania and the Northern Territory are more likely to die of a heart attack than people living elsewhere in Australia.
Heart and blood vessel disease kill one Australian every 10 minutes, on average. The estimated annual cost to the economy of cardiovascular disease is approximately $3.5 billion.
During the 1980s women gained, on average, an extra three kilograms in weight and men an extra two kilograms. Medical experts believe Australians are eating more junk food, which is a significant factor. Also, while smoking levels continue to decline, more than one-quarter of the population still smoke, seriously increasing their risk of heart disease and other health problems. One in six middle-aged Australians have high blood pressure.
Dr Andrew Tonkin, Medical Vice-President of the Heart Foundation’s Victorian Division, said at the launch of the report that, despite gains in cutting heart disease in Australia, the realities are grim. He said, ‘Cardiovascular disease is still the commonest cause of death in this country and in 1993 accounted for about 44% of all deaths’.
Dr Tonkin called for more government funding for research into heart disease. He said that health campaigns should concentrate on the parents of the future-young people between 18 and 24 years, who were the greatest consumers of junk food.
During the 1980s cholesterol levels remained stagnant. The Heart Foundation’s National Medical Director, Dr Paul Magnus, said that all adult Australians should know their cholesterol levels and be re-tested every five years.
Based on figures from the ABS and the Heart Foundation, on average in 1993, 31 Australians under the age of 70 years died prematurely from heart disease every day. For young and middle-aged Aboriginal Australians, death rates from heart disease were 10 to 20 times higher than for non-Aboriginal Australians.