Higher risk of heart disease for Indigenous peoples

As many as one in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have some form of cardiovascular disease, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Susanna Senes of the AIHW's Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Unit, said, 'Rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are 30% higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than among non-Indigenous Australians.'

The report, Cardiovascular disease and its associated risk factors in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2004-05, showed that hypertension was the most common cardiovascular condition in Indigenous Australians followed by coronary heart disease, heart failure and rheumatic heart disease.

The greatest disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians was seen in rates of coronary heart disease, which were twice as high in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

'Contributing to this disparity were risk factors for cardiovascular disease, nearly all of which were more common among Indigenous Australians, Ms Senes said.

More than half of Indigenous adults have three or four of the following risk factors for CVD: physical inactivity, daily smoking, not enough fruit and vegetables, high alcohol consumption, obesity, and diabetes.

Indigenous Australians were nearly four times as likely to have diabetes as non Indigenous Australians, and were twice as likely to be daily smokers, or to be obese.

Based on data from Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory, cardiovascular death rates in Indigenous Australians were three times those of non-Indigenous Australians.

Coronary heart disease was responsible for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths between 2002 and 2005 than any other single cause.

Thursday 5 June 2008

Further information: Ms Susanna Senes, AIHW, 02 6244 1171, mob. 0418 271 395.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 61 2 6244 1032.