What is it?
Cardiovascular disease includes all diseases and conditions of the heart and blood vessels. It is caused mainly by damage to the blood supply to the heart, brain and legs. The four main contributors to the cardiovascular disease burden in Australia are: Coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure and peripheral vascular disease.
The most common is coronary heart disease, which affected more than 580,000 Australians in 2012 and is caused by the gradual build up on the inner wall of the arteries. There are two types: heart attack and angina.
Angina is when the blood supply to the heart is temporarily stopped due to blockage in one of the arteries. A heart attack is when the blood vessel to the heart is completely blocked, causing damage to the heart and its functions.
Stroke is the cause of cerebrovascular disease, which is a condition that causes disruption to the blood supply to the brain. It happens when a blood vessel to the brain bleeds or becomes blocked, this causes that part of brain to be deprived of blood and die. Cerebrovascular disease affected more then 250,000 Australians in 2012.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body and can be caused by conditions that place too much pressure on the heart. It affected almost 300,000 Australians in 2012.
Reasons for selection
Cardiovascular disease remains the largest cause of premature death in Australia; it affects 1 in 6 Australians with about 46,000 dying annually (which is roughly one death every 12 minutes). It is the leading cause of disability in Australia and 2nd leading cause of disease burden and is the most expensive disease group costing billions to the health care system every year (close to 8 billion in 2009).
Blood pressure: High blood pressure is linked to coronary heart disease, stroke heart failure and peripheral vascular disease.
High blood cholesterol: Blood vessels become clogged with plaque, linked to coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
Body weight: excess weight places increased demand on the heart.
Age: Risk of cardiovascular disease increases with age, especially from 60 onwards.
Sex: Males have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Genetics: Family member (such as mother) with heart disease increase the risk.
Ethnicity: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have higher death rates.
Tabaco use: Major risk factor, causes an increase in blood pressure and blood clots and reduces the blood oxygen levels.
Physical inactivity: Increased risk of death and disability due to cardiovascular disease due to decreased cardiovascular fitness. Being physically inactive is linked to being overweight and obesity, which also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Diet: Diets are a huge