Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Heart, stroke and vascular disease—Australian facts, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 02 December 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Heart, stroke and vascular disease—Australian facts. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/heart-stroke-vascular-diseases/hsvd-facts
Heart, stroke and vascular disease—Australian facts. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 29 September 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/heart-stroke-vascular-diseases/hsvd-facts
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Heart, stroke and vascular disease—Australian facts [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2022 Dec. 2]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/heart-stroke-vascular-diseases/hsvd-facts
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Heart, stroke and vascular disease—Australian facts, viewed 2 December 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/heart-stroke-vascular-diseases/hsvd-facts
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had 3 or more key modifiable cardiovascular risk factors in 2014–18
had high blood pressure in 2017–18
with heart, stroke and vascular disease also had diabetes
Risk factors are attributes, characteristics or exposures that increase the likelihood of a person developing a disease or health disorder.
Behavioural risk factors are health-related behaviours that individuals have the most ability to modify. Behavioural risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) include:
Biomedical risk factors are bodily states that have an impact on a person’s risk of disease. Some biomedical risk factors can be influenced by health behaviours. Others, such as type 1 diabetes, occur independently of behaviours. Biomedical risk factors for CVD include:
There are other risk factors. Both age and sex can increase the risk of developing certain types of CVD, as can family history—through inherited genes or through sharing an environment of risky health behaviours. A large body of research shows that mental health is closely associated with CVD, with suggestions that each may have a role in causing the other (De Hert et al. 2018, Chaddha et al. 2016). These effects can arise both directly, through biological pathways, and indirectly, through health behaviors.
For most risk factors there is no known threshold at which risk begins. The relationship between risk and disease is continuous—there is an increasing effect as exposure to the risk factor increases. Having multiple risk factors further escalates risk.
Many chronic diseases, including CVD, share behavioural and biomedical risk factors. Modifying these risk factors can reduce an individual's risk of developing CVD prematurely and result in large health gains by reducing illness and rates of death.
This section presents statistics on 5 key modifiable risk factors that increase the risk of a person developing CVD—smoking, high blood pressure, abnormal blood lipids and diabetes and overweight and obesity.
The selection focusses on risk factors that are used to calculate absolute cardiovascular risk—an integrated approach that estimates the likelihood of an individual having a serious cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, in the next 5 years.
'My attitude at that time was that while I was training, I could eat whatever I wanted. Ice cream. Junk food. I was burning it all up, so what did it matter? I knew for some time that I had high cholesterol, but I didn’t really heed the warnings I was given and thought because I was fit, I’d be fine.'
Warrawatja is a proud Wiradjuri/Wonnarua man who at age 48, had a heart attack while training for a boxing match.
Learn more about Warrawatja's heart story
For more information on these and other CVD risk factors, see:
Visit Risk factors for more information on this topic
Chaddha A, Robinson EA, Kline-Rogers E, Alexandris-Souphis T, Rubenfire M 2016. Mental health and cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Medicine 129:1145–8.
De Hert M, Detraux J, Vancampfort D 2018. The intriguing relationship between coronary heart disease and mental disorders. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience 20: 31–40.
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