Length of stay in hospital
The length of time that people spend in hospital for CVD has decreased over the past 3 decades. Among those hospitalised for 1 night or more with CVD as a principal diagnosis, the average length of stay declined from 9.6 days in 1993–94 to 7.9 days in 2007–08 and 5.9 days in 2020–21. In 2020–21, 28% of people admitted to hospital with CVD were discharged the same day.
Of those hospitalised with CVD in 2020–21, patients with stroke tended to stay longest – an average of 11.6 days, followed by patients with congenital heart disease (9.2 days) peripheral arterial disease (6.7 days), and coronary heart disease (4.3 days).
Average length of stay in hospital increases with age. Those aged 85 and over stayed an average of 7.1 days, compared with 4.9 days for those aged 25–34 years. The longer lengths of stay among older people reflect the increased complexity and multiplicity of their conditions.
Variation among population groups
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
In 2020–21, there were around 17,300 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
After adjusting for differences in the age structure of the populations:
- the rate among Indigenous Australians was 1.8 times as high as the non-Indigenous rate (3,300 and 1,800 per 100,000 population)
- the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians was greater for females – 2.2 times as high (3,100 and 1,400 per 100,000 population) compared with 1.6 times as high for males (3,600 and 2,300 per 100,000 population).
In 2020–21, CVD hospitalisation rates were almost 20% higher for people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas compared with those in the highest socioeconomic areas – 2,100 and 1,800 per 100,000 population.
The disparity between the lowest and highest socioeconomic areas was greater for females than males (1.24 and 1.13 times as high) (Figure 4).
In 2020–21, CVD hospitalisation rates were around 40% higher among those living in Remote and very remote areas compared with those in Major cities (2,600 and 1,900 per 100,000 population).
This largely reflects disparities in female rates ― 2,200 and 1,400 per 100,000 population ― for males, the difference was smaller (2,800 and 2,300 per 100,000).
Higher hospitalisation rates in Remote and very remote areas are likely to be influenced by the higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in these areas, who have higher rates of CVD than other Australians.
CVD patients are often transferred from a local regional hospital to a larger urban hospital where more intense or critical care can be provided. In 2020–21, 19% of CVD hospitalisations (principal and/or additional diagnosis) in Remote and very remote areas were transferred to another acute hospital, compared with 16% in Outer regional areas, 14% in Inner regional areas and 9% in Major cities.
The higher rates of transfers are often necessary because certain cardiac procedures, such as angiograms and cardiac revascularisation, are generally performed in large hospitals, which are predominantly located in urban areas.
Figure 4: Cardiovascular disease hospitalisation rates, principal diagnosis, by population group and sex, 2020–21