Certain groups in the population have significantly higher mortality from heart, stroke and vascular disease than other groups. Indigenous Australians die from heart, stroke and vascular disease at nearly twice the rate of the total population. There are differences in the health profiles of Australians living in urban, rural and remote areas, and in those of differing socio-economic status as well. There is a clear need to reduce the impact of heart, stroke and vascular disease on less advantaged groups.

Progress towards national goals and targets

Under the NHPA initiative, progress towards reducing the health problem is measured by time trends in risk factor prevalence, and morbidity and mortality. This report documents results for a set of 22 indicators for cardiovascular health, and eight risk factor indicators that are relevant to other NHPAs as well as to the health of Australians in general. There have been positive outcomes in a number of areas for which trend data are available. Death rates for coronary heart disease and stroke, in the total population (including rural and remote areas) have decreased. The prevalence rates for tobacco smoking and high blood pressure have continued to fall. However, there has been little change in recreational physical activity levels over the past 20 years. The prevalence of overweight and obesity continues to rise. In addition, it seems unlikely that current efforts in Indigenous populations will allow a real prospect of achieving nationally agreed targets for mortality, morbidity or risk factors.