Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a group of diseases affecting the heart and circulatory system . The most common types of CVD are coronary heart disease (including heart attack), stroke, heart failure, and high blood pressure. Risk factors (a behaviour or characteristic that makes it more likely for a person to get a disease) for CVD include: smoking (both smoking tobacco and being exposed to second-hand smoke), high blood cholesterol, being overweight, not eating well, being physically inactive and having diabetes.
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are affected by CVD. One-in-eight (13%) Indigenous people reported in the 2012-2013 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey (AATSIHS) that they had some form of CVD . One-in-twenty-five (4%) Indigenous people reported having had heart, stroke and/or vascular diseases . One-in-twenty (6%) Indigenous people reported having had high blood pressure (hypertensive heart disease) .
More Indigenous women (14%) reported having CVD than Indigenous men (11%) in 2012-2013 . Indigenous people living in remote areas were more likely to report having heart disease than those living in non-remote areas . Heart and related conditions were 1.2 times more common for Indigenous people than for non-Indigenous people .
CVD was the leading cause of death of Indigenous people in 2012. It was responsible for 25% of the deaths of Indigenous people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT . After age-adjustment, the death rate for Indigenous people was almost twice as high than for non-Indigenous people . There were more deaths from ischaemic heart disease among Indigenous males than among Indigenous females but more Indigenous females died from cerebrovascular diseases than Indigenous males .
Indigenous people are more likely to die from CVD when they’re young or in middle age than non-Indigenous people. In 2009-2010 in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT, the death rates for all coronary heart disease (the leading cause of CVD-related deaths) were 7 to 13 times higher for Indigenous people in the 25-39 and 40-54 years age-groups than the rates for their non-Indigenous counterparts .