This report is the first in a series by the National Centre for Monitoring Vascular Diseases at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. It describes deaths in the Australian population that result from 3 chronic diseases, acting alone or together: cardiovascular disease (CVD) (including coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke), diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD).

What impacts do CVD, diabetes and CKD have on mortality?

  • In 2011, CVD, diabetes and CKD together were the underlying causes of 52,899 deaths, 36% of all deaths. Overall, 61% of all deaths had at least 1 of these diseases recorded as an underlying or associated cause of death.
  • CVD was the underlying cause of 45,622 deaths, 31% of all deaths. CHD accounted for 47% of CVD deaths, followed by stroke (19%). CVD contributed to 56% of all deaths.
  • Diabetes was the underlying cause of 4,209 deaths, 3% of all deaths. Of these, 43% were due to type 2 diabetes 9% to type 1 diabetes, and the rest did not specify. Diabetes was an underlying or associated cause of 15,093 deaths, 10% of all deaths.
  • CKD was the underlying cause of 3,068 deaths, 2.1% of all deaths. It was an underlying or associated cause of 14,842 deaths, 10% of all deaths.

What are the trends in mortality?

  • Between 1981 and 2011, the CVD death rate for males fell by 71% (from 689 to 202 deaths per 100,000 population), and for females by 67% (from 440 to 145 deaths per 100,000).
  • The diabetes death rate was 16.3 deaths per 100,000 in 2011. It remained largely unchanged between 1981 and 2011.
  • Although CKD mortality declined overall between 1981 (16.3 deaths per 100,000) and 2011 (11.5), rates have been relatively stable since 2000.

Who is affected most?

  • CHD, diabetes and CKD death rates in 2011 were higher among males than females (1.8, 1.5 and 1.4 times as high, respectively). For stroke, male and female rates were similar.
  • Death rates were higher among older persons. For CVD, for example, there was a fourfold increase in rates between ages 65-74 years, 75-84 and 85 and over.
  • People in low socioeconomic groups, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those living in Remote and very remote areas have higher rates. Indigenous diabetes and CKD death rates, for example, were over 3 times those of non-Indigenous Australians.

What associations are there?

  • In 2011, at least 2 of CVD, diabetes and CKD were found in 14% of death records, with CVD and diabetes occurring together in half of these. About 2% of deaths had all 3 diseases recorded.
  • Of diabetes deaths, 64% had CHD as an associated cause, and 27% CKD. For CKD, 29% of deaths had heart failure and cardiomyopathy as associated causes, and 27% CHD.
  • CVD was listed as an associated cause of death for 25% of all deaths registered in 2011, diabetes for 7% and CKD for 8%.