Emergency departments (ED) are an essential component of Australia’s health care system. Many of Australia’s public hospitals have purpose-built EDs, staffed 24 hours a day, providing care for patients with heart, stroke or vascular disease who require urgent medical, surgical or other attention.
There were 339,000 presentations to Australian public hospital EDs with a principal diagnosis of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 2020–21—a rate of 1,300 presentations per 100,000 population.
The triage category indicates the urgency of the patient’s need for care. Of ED presentations with a principal diagnosis of CVD in 2020–21, 15,500 (4.6%) were triaged as ‘resuscitation’ and needed immediate care, 149,700 (44%) were ‘emergency’ (within 10 minutes), 127,200 (38%) were ‘urgent’ (within 30 minutes), 42,200 (12%) were ‘semi-urgent’ (within 60 minutes) and 4,600 (1.4%) were ‘non-urgent’ (within 120 minutes) (AIHW 2022).
Almost two-thirds (63%) of ED presentations with a principal diagnosis of CVD were subsequently admitted to the hospital they presented to in 2020–21, with another 30% departing without being admitted or referred, and 5.8% referred to another hospital for admission.
In addition to ED presentations with a principal diagnosis of CVD, there were 385,000 ED presentations with symptoms of ‘Pain in throat and chest’ (ICD-10-AM R07) in 2020–21. Of these, 158,000 (41%) were subsequently admitted to hospital for further investigation and treatment (AIHW 2022).
Age and sex
- there were 179,000 male and 160,000 female presentations to Australian public hospital ED with a principal diagnosis of CVD
- the age-standardised male rate of presentation was 1.2 times as high as the female rate (1,300 and 1,000 per 100,000 population)
- more than half of presentations (192,000, or 57%) were among people aged 65 and over
- presentation rates increased with age, to be highest among males and females aged 85 and over (9,300 and 8,200 per 100,000 population)―more than twice as high as age 65–74 (3,500 and 2,600 per 100,000 population)
- at age 55–64, the male rate of presentation was 1.5 times as high as the female rate (2,300 and 1,500 per 100,000 population). At age 25–34, the female rate of presentation was 1.1 times as high as the male rate (407 and 372 per 100,000 population).
Variation among population groups
- Indigenous people presented to EDs with a principal diagnosis of CVD at 2.4 times the rate of non-Indigenous people (age-standardised rates of 2,600 and 1,100 per 100,000 population)
- rates increased with remoteness, being 1.7 times as high in Remote/very remote areas compared to Major cities (age-standardised rates of 1,700 and 1,000 per 100,000 population)
- rates for people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas were 1.9 times as high as for people in the highest socioeconomic areas (age-standardised rates of 1,500 and 760 per 100,000 population).
Figure 1: Emergency Department presentation rates, principal diagnosis, by age group, 2020–21