Heart attacks down 20% in 6 years

The incidence of heart attack in Australia fell by 20% between 1993-94 and 1999-00, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Hospital admission rates for heart attack fell by 12% over the same period.

And not only are Australians suffering fewer heart attacks, they are surviving them better-fatality rates for heart attack cases fell by 12-16% over the same six-year period.

The results come on top of an overall 30% drop in death rates from coronary heart disease over the same six-year period.

But the author of Epidemic of Coronary Heart Disease and its Treatment in Australia, Sushma Mathur, says that despite the great improvements, coronary heart disease remains one of the nation's greatest health challenges.

'There were still over 48,000 major coronary events in Australia in 1999-00, or 132 per day. Half of these were fatal.'

Ms Mathur said that major advances had been made over the last 20 years in medical care procedures for people suffering heart attacks.

'There has been a rapid increase in revascularisation procedures such as coronary angioplasty and cardiac bypass surgery, which aim to overcome the blockages that occur in the heart's arteries.

'During hospital stays for heart attack about 1 in 8 patients now have coronary angioplasty, and 1 in 20 cardiac bypass surgery.

'There have also been large increases in prescriptions of cholesterol-lowering and some blood pressure lowering drugs.

'These measures, as well as declines in tobacco smoking and high blood pressure, have played a part in lowering heart disease incidence and death rates.'

The report shows that men are twice as likely as women to be hospitalised for heart attack, or have coronary disease and die from it.

The elderly are more likely to be admitted to hospital for heart attack, but less likely to receive revascularisation procedures than people aged 40-64 years.

19 September 2002


Further information: Ms Sushma Mathur, AIHW, tel. 0407 915 851,
Dr Paul Magnus, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1149
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032