Deaths from cardiovascular disease

All cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) was the underlying cause of death in 45,400 deaths in 2015 (29% of all deaths) according to the AIHW National Mortality Database. It was an associated cause of death in a further 41,000 deaths.

The deaths data in this web page only refers to CVD as the underlying cause of death (i.e. the primary or main cause of death).

Where CVD was listed as the underlying cause of death:

  • 44% were due to coronary heart disease (CHD)
  • 18% were due to stroke
  • 10% were due to heart failure and cardiomyopathy (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Major causes of CVD death, 2015

The horizontal bar chart shows that in 2015, coronary heart disease was the major cause of death where CVD was listed as an underlying cause. This was followed by stroke and heart failure and cardiomyopathy. Males had a higher number of deaths than females across all leading conditions except hypertensive disease and rheumatic heart disease.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Data source table).

Trends

Both the number and rate of CVD deaths have declined substantially over the last three decades:

  • The number of CVD deaths declined by 21% (from around 57,500 to 45,400) between 1985 and 2015.
  • CVD death rates declined by around 70%—falling from 612 to 176 per 100,000 population for males and 410 to 129 per 100,000 for females (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Trends in CVD deaths, by sex, 1985–2015

The line chart shows that between 1985 and 2015, death rates for CVD have declined rapidly for both males and females. Males had consistently higher CVD death rates than females across the period.

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Data source table).

Age and sex

In 2015, CVD death rates:

  • Were overall 1.4 times as high for males as for females (176 and 129 per 100,000 population). Age-specific rates for males were higher than females in those less than 85 years. However, in the 85 and over age-group, rates were similar for males and females (Figure 3).
  • Increased with age, with over half (54%) of CVD deaths occurring in persons aged 85 years and over. CVD death rates for males and females were highest in the 85 and over age group (5,241 and 5,204 per 100,000, respectively)―4 times as high for males and 6 times as high for females aged 75–84 years (1,237 and 862 per 100,000, respectively) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: CVD deaths, by age and sex, 2015

The vertical bar chart shows that CVD mortality rates increased rapidly from age 65 and over, with rates being 4-6 times as high in the 85 and over age group  than those aged 75-84.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Data source table).

Variations among population groups

CVD death rates increased with remoteness and socioeconomic disadvantage, and were higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

  • 1.3 times as high in Remote and very remote areas compared with Major cities (185 compared with 145 per 100,000 population, in 2013–15). This gap was similar for males and females (Figure 4).
  • 1.4 times as high in the lowest socioeconomic group compared with the highest socioeconomic group (176 compared with 124 per 100,000, in 2015). This gap was similar for males and females (Figure 4).
  • 1.9 times as high among Indigenous Australians compared with non-Indigenous Australians (280 compared with 151 deaths per 100,000, in 2013–15). This gap between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians was similar for males and females (Figure 4).

Figure 4: CVD deaths, by selected population characteristics, 2013–2015

The horizontal bar chart shows that in 2013–2015, CVD mortality rates were 1.3 times as high in remote and very remote areas compared with major cities, and 1.4 times as high in the lowest socioeconomic group compared with the highest. Rates were consistently higher among males than females. Compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts, CVD death rates were 1.8 times as high for Indigenous males and 1.9 times as high for Indigenous females.

Notes

  1. Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.
  2. Analysis for socioeconomic groups is for 2015 only.
  3. Analysis for Indigenous status includes data from NSW, QLD, WA, SA and NT only.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Data source table).

Coronary heart disease (CHD)

In 2015, CHD was the underlying cause in around 19,800 deaths (12% of all deaths and almost 1 in 2 CVD deaths). Over 40% of CHD deaths (8,400) resulted from a heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infarction.

Trends

The number and rate of CHD deaths have declined substantially over the last three decades:

  • The number of CHD deaths declined by 38% (from around 32,600 to 19,800) between 1985 and 2015.
  • CHD death rates declined by around three-quarters—falling from 377 to 89 per 100,000 population for males and 201 to 48 per 100,000 population for females (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Trends in CHD deaths, 1985–2015

The line chart shows that CHD mortality rates have declined rapidly between 1985 and 2015 for males and females. CHD mortality rates have remained consistently higher for males than females.

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Data source table).

Age and sex

In 2015, CHD death rates:

  • Were 1.9 times as high for males as for females (89 and 48 per 100,000 population).
  • Increased with age, with half (50%) of all CHD deaths occurring in persons 85 and over. CHD death rates for males and females were highest in 85 and over age group (2,442 and 1,935 per 100,000, respectively)—4 times as high for males and 6 times as high for females aged 75–84 (594 and 311 per 100,000, respectively) (Figure 6).

Figure 6: CHD deaths, by age and sex, 2015

The vertical bar chart shows that CHD mortality rates increased sharply between age groups 75-84 and 85 and over.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Data source table).

Stroke

In 2015, stroke was the underlying cause in over 8,400 deaths (5% of all deaths and 18% of CVD deaths).

Trends

The number and rate of stroke deaths have declined substantially over the last three decades:

  • The number of stroke deaths declined by 25% (from around 11,200 to 8,400) between 1985 and 2015.
  • Stroke death rates declined by 67%, falling from 83 to 28 deaths per 100,000 population. Stroke death rates declined at a similar rate for males and females (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Trends in stroke deaths, 1985–2014

The line chart shows that stroke deaths have steadily declined for both males and females between 1985 and 2015.

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Data source table).

Age and sex

In 2015, stroke death rates:

  • Were similar for males and females, except in the 85 and over age group where rates were higher among females than males (Figure 8).
  • Increased with age, with over half (56%) of all stroke deaths occurring in those aged 85 years and over. Stroke death rates for males and females were highest in the 85 and over age group (855 and 1,084 per 100,000 population, respectively)—4 times as high for males and 5 times as high for females aged 75–84 years (210 and 203 per 100,000, respectively) (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Stroke deaths, by age and sex, 2014

The vertical bar chart shows that stroke mortality rates increased rapidly from age 75 years for both males and females, with rates in the 85 and over age group 4 times as high for males and 5 times as high for females aged 75–84 years.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Data source table).

For more information on how deaths are registered, coded and updated, see About deaths data.