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Diseases of the circulatory system (also sometimes known collectively as cardiovascular disease) include all heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases (including stroke), diseases of the arteries, arterioles and capillaries, and diseases of the veins and lymphatic vessels. Cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of burden of disease in 1996, accounting for approximately 22% of total burden (AIHW 2000a).
In 2000, almost 40% (49,687) of all deaths were due to diseases of the circulatory system. Ischaemic heart disease accounted for 21% of all deaths, and cerebrovascular diseases a further 9.6%. Between 1990 and 2000, age-standardised death rates for diseases of the circulatory system declined by 36% for males (from 400 to 254 per 100,000 persons), 35% for females (from 263 to 172) and 35% in total (from 325 to 210).
In 2000, data on causes of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were considered to be of publishable quality for New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. In that year, the leading cause of death among the Indigenous population was diseases of the circulatory system, which accounted for 28% of all Indigenous deaths, compared to 39% of all non-Indigenous deaths. In 1998-2000, the median age at death for Indigenous persons from cardiovascular disease was 60 years compared with 81 years for the non-Indigenous population.
These issues are discussed further in the article Cardiovascular disease: 20th century trends.