Cardiovascular diseases are Australia's costliest

Cardiovascular diseases are the most expensive group of diseases in Australia with direct health care spending on cardiovascular diseases amounting to almost $6 billion in 2004-05, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, Health care expenditure on cardiovascular diseases 2004-05, showed that substantially more is spent on males ($321 per person) than on females ($261 per person) in the treatment and management of diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke.

'Much of this difference is due to higher rates of cardiovascular disease among males than females and relates to expenditure on hospitalisations,' explained John Woodall of the Institute's Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Kidney Unit.

'However, differences in the diagnosis, treatment, care and course of these diseases between sexes may also be factors in the difference in spending between men and women,' he said.

By comparison, expenditure on oral health was $5,305 million, followed by expenditure related to mental disorders ($4,128 million) and musculoskeletal conditions ($3,956 million).

The report also showed that spending increases with age, with the most per-person spending on people over 85 years of age.

Spending on hospital-admitted patients accounted for approximately half of all expenditure on cardiovascular diseases.

Prescription pharmaceuticals were the next most expensive area of expenditure (28%), followed by out-of-hospital medical services (19%) and research (3%).

Canberra, 5 December 2008

Further information: John Woodall, tel. 02 6244 1086, mob. 0418 271 395

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1032.