Cardiovascular disease and diabetes cost us dear

More Australians die from cardiovascular disease each year and more money is spent on its health system costs than any other disease or injury group, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Health System Costs of Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes in Australia 1993-94 shows that as the leading cause of death among Australians (54,000 deaths a year), cardiovascular disease is also the most expensive disease group-costing the Australian community $3.9 billion in direct health care costs during 1993-94.

The report also shows that diabetes mellitus has emerged as a serious and growing health problem among Australians. When complications from diabetes are taken into account, the total health system costs of diabetes are estimated to be around $681 million.

According to Principal Research Fellow, Dr Colin Mathers, diabetes affects more than 4% of Australians, at least 10% of the elderly, and up to 30% of some Aboriginal communities.

'And what's more, diabetes causes further illness and deaths due to eye and kidney diseases and limb amputations, and it significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease,' Dr Mathers said. `In fact, some of the health system costs of cardiovascular disease can actually be attributed to diabetes'.

Overall, the report shows that coronary heart disease and strokes are the most expensive cardiovascular diseases, costing $894 million in direct health system costs (23% of total cardiovascular disease costs) and $630 million (16%) respectively during 1993-94. Prevention and treatment of high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol cost $831 million and $199 million respectively.

Other findings in Health System Costs of Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes in Australia 1993-94 include:

  • Average annual health costs per diagnosed diabetic person are around $1,700 for men and $2,100 for women. On average, 29% of these costs are for hospital care, 20% for pharmaceutical drugs, and 14% for medical services.
  • Estimated lifetime costs of Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes are about $190,000, compared with around $25,000 for Type 2 (non-insulin dependent).
  • Health system costs of cardiovascular disease rise with age, reaching around $1,700 per capita per year on average for men and women aged 75 years or over.

7 May 1999


Further information: Dr Colin Mathers, AIHW, ph. 02 6244 1138.
For media copies of the report: Mrs Lena Searle, AIHW, ph. 02 6244 1032.
Availability: Check the AIHW for details.