Deaths from cardiovascular disease

All cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) was the underlying cause of death in 43,500 deaths in 2017 (27% of all deaths) according to the AIHW National Mortality Database. It was an associated cause of death in a further 41,400 deaths.

The deaths data in this web page only refer 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:

  • 43% were due to coronary heart disease (CHD)
  • 19% were due to stroke
  • 11% were due to heart failure and cardiomyopathy (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Major causes of CVD death, 2017

This column graph shows that coronary heart disease was the most common underlying cause of CVD death for both males and females in 2017. Coronary heart disease was the underlying cause of 10,514 death of males and 8,076 deaths of females. Stroke was the second most common underlying cause of CVD death followed by heart failure and cardiomyopathy, and peripheral vascular disease. More females than males had stroke, hypertensive disease and rheumatic heart disease listed as the underlying cause of death.

Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. (Data table)

Trends

Both the number and rate of CVD deaths have declined substantially between 1981 and 2017:

  • The number of CVD deaths declined by 22% (from around 56,000 to 43,500) between 1981 and 2017.
  • CVD death rates declined by around 75%—falling from 689 to 161 per 100,000 population for males and 440 to 117 per 100,000 for females (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Trends in CVD deaths, by sex, 1981–2017

This line graph shows that the rate of CVD deaths has declined between 1981 and 2017 for both males and females. For males, the rate of HSVD deaths declined from 689 to 161 deaths per 100,000 population between 1981 and 2017. For females, the rate of CVD deaths declined from 440 to 117 deaths per 100,000 population between 1981 and 2017.

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.
Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. (Data table)

Age and sex

In 2017, CVD death rates:

  • Were 1.4 times as high for males as for females (161 and 117 per 100,000 population, respectively). Age-specific rates for males were higher than females across all age groups (Figure 3).

Increased with age, with over half (53%) 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 (4,800 and 4,700 per 100,000, respectively)―4 times as high for males and 6 times as high for females aged 75–84 years (1,100 and 788 per 100,000, respectively) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: CVD deaths, by age and sex, 2017

This column graph shows that the rate of CVD deaths increased with age, with the highest rate for both males and females in those aged 85 year and over (4,830 and 4,655 per 100,000 population, respectively).

Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. (Data table)

Variation among population groups

After adjusting for age, CVD death rates increased with remoteness and socioeconomic disadvantage. Rates were:

  • 1.4 times as high in Remote and very remote areas compared with Major cities (185 compared with 135 per 100,000 population, in 2015–2017). This gap was similar for males and females (Figure 4).
  • 1.5 times as high in the lowest socioeconomic group compared with the highest socioeconomic group (164 compared with 112 per 100,000, in 2017). This gap was higher for males (1.5 times as high) than females (1.4 times as high) (Figure 4).

Figure 4: CVD Deaths, by selected population characteristics, 2015 –2017

This bar graph show that the age-standardised rate of CVD hospitalisations (principal diagnosis) increased with remoteness and socioeconomic disadvantage for both males and females. Males had a higher age-standardised rate of CVD hospitalisations than females across remoteness areas and socioeconomic groups.

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.
Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. (Data table)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

In 2015–2017, there were around 1,950 deaths from CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a crude rate of 99 deaths per 100,000 population.

After adjusting for differences in the age structure of the populations, the rate of death from CVD was 1.8 times as high among Indigenous Australians compared with non-Indigenous Australians. The gap between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians was higher among females (2 times higher among Indigenous Australians) than males (1.7 times higher among Indigenous Australians).

Coronary heart disease (CHD)

In 2017, CHD was the underlying cause in around 18,600 deaths (12% of all deaths and 43% of CVD deaths). Forty three percent of CHD deaths (7,800) resulted from a heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infarction.

Trends

The number and rate of CHD deaths have declined substantially between 1981 and 2017:

  • The number of CHD deaths declined by 41% (from around 31,400 to 18,600) between 1981 and 2017.
  • CHD death rates declined by around 80%—falling from 412 to 79 per 100,000 population for males and 208 to 43 per 100,000 population for females (Figure 5).

It is important to note that in processing deaths registered from 1 January 1997, Australia adopted the use of the automated coding system, and introduced ICD-10 codes. As a result, there is a break in the underlying cause of death series between 1996 and 1997. A comparability factor has been applied (1.01) to allow underlying cause of death data to be compared across this time period.

Figure 5: Trends in CHD deaths, 1981–2017

This line graph shows the rate of CHD deaths has declined between 1981 and 2017 for both males and females. For males, the rate of CHD deaths declined from 412 in 1981 to 79 in 2017. For females, the rate of CHD deaths declines from 208 in 1981 to 43 in 2017.

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.
Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. (Data table)

Age and sex

In 2017, CHD death rates:

  • Were 1.8 times as high for males as for females (79 and 43 per 100,000 population).
  • Increased with age, with half 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 (2,100 and 1,700 per 100,000, respectively)—4 times as high for males and 6 times as high for females aged 75–84 (532 and 273 per 100,000, respectively) (Figure 6).

Figure 6: CHD deaths, by age and sex, 2017

This column graph shows that the rate of CHD deaths increased with age, with the highest rate for both males and females in those aged 85 year and over (2,147 and 1,719 per 100,000 population, respectively).

Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. (Data table)

Stroke

In 2017, stroke was the underlying cause in over 8,100 deaths (5% of all deaths and 19% of CVD deaths).

Trends

The number and rate of stroke deaths have declined substantially between 1981 and 2017:

  • The number of stroke deaths declined by 33% (from around 12,000 to 8,100) between 1981 and 2017.
  • Stroke death rates declined by 75%, falling from 102 to 26 deaths per 100,000 population. Stroke death rates declined at a similar rate for males and females (Figure 7).

It is important to note that death rates for 1981–1996 have been adjusted to ICD-10 standards using a comparability factor of 0.83.

Figure 7: Trends in stroke deaths, 1981–2017

This line graph shows the rate of stroke deaths has declined between 1981 and 2017 for both males and females. For males, the rate of CHD deaths declined from 106 in 1981 to 26 in 2017. For females, the rate of CHD deaths declines from 97 in 1981 to 25 in 2017.

Note: Age-standarised to the 2001 Austalian Standard Population.
Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. (Data table)

Age and sex

In 2017, 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 (54%) 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 (809 and 936 per 100,000 population, respectively)—4 times as high for males and 5 times as high for females aged 75–84 years (202 and 187 per 100,000, respectively) (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Stroke deaths, by age and sex, 2017

This column graph shows that the rate of stroke deaths increased with age, with the highest rate for both males and females in those aged 85 year and over (809 and 936 per 100,000 population, respectively).

Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. (Data table)

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