4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/12/2018   
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Heart, stroke and vascular disease encompasses a range of circulatory conditions including angina, heart attack and stroke. Commonly, this group of conditions is referred to under the broader term of 'heart disease' and is often used interchangeably with the term 'cardiovascular disease'. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide[1]. In 2017, it was found that there were 43,447 deaths (27% of all deaths) in Australia attributable to diseases of the circulatory system[2] and there were more than 1.1 million hospitalisations in 2015-16 (11% of all hospitalisations) due to cardiovascular disease[3]. Heart disease is associated with lifestyle risk factors such as; smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, being inactive, being overweight, an unhealthy diet and depression[4].


Heart, stroke and vascular disease refers to persons who reported having been told by a doctor or nurse that they had any of a range of circulatory conditions comprising:
  • Ischaemic heart diseases (angina, heart attack and other ischaemic heart diseases)
  • Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases)
  • Oedema
  • Heart failure
  • Diseases of the arteries, arterioles and capillaries.

In this publication, persons reported that their condition was current and long-term; that is, their condition was current at the time of interview and had lasted, or was expected to last, 6 months or more. In 2014-15 and 2017-18, persons who reported having ischaemic heart diseases and cerebrovascular diseases that were not current and long-term at the time of interview are also included. Estimates of heart, stroke and vascular disease for 2007-08, 2011-12, 2014-15 and 2017-18 in this publication are presented using this definition. There is limited comparability between 2007-08 and previous years due to a change in derivation methodology in 2007-08.


The prevalence of heart disease amongst Australians was around one in twenty (4.8% or 1.2 million people) in 2017-18 and has remained fairly consistent over time.

Heart disease has remained more common among males (5.4%) compared with females (4.2%) and over time, the gap does not appear to be narrowing.

The proportion of people with heart disease generally increases with age. In 2017-18, the proportion of people with heart disease was less than 5% under 55 years of age, then steadily climbed to one in four (25.8%) Australians aged 75 years and over with heart disease in 2017-18. This however, was a decline from 2014-15 where 30.7% of adults aged 75 years and over had heart disease.

The prevalence of heart disease was similar for all age groups until age 64 years regardless of gender. For those aged 65 years and older, men had higher rates of heart disease compared to women for those aged 65-74 years (19.6% and 12.4% respectively) and age 75 years and over (31.5% and 20.4% respectively).

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with heart, stroke and vascular disease, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18


1 World Health Organization, Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), 2017 <http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)>; last accessed 12/11/2018
2 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2017 <https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/3303.0~2017~Main%20Features~Australia's%20leading%20causes%20of%20death,%202017~2>; last accessed 18/10/2018
3 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cardiovascular disease snapshot, 2018 <https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/heart-stroke-vascular-disease/cardiovascular-health-compendium/contents/how-many-australians-have-cardiovascular-disease>; last accessed 12/11/2018
4 Heart Foundation, Keep your heart healthy, 2015 <http://heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/keep-your-heart-healthy>; last accessed 18/10/2018