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Heart attack still the number one killer of Australians

Paper heart in a hand Source: Moment RF

New data shows more than half of all adult Australians have three or more of the risk factors that cause heart disease - poor diet, insufficient exercise, smoking and being overweight.

Heart attacks continue to be the leading cause of death in Australia. About 58,700 Australians had an acute coronary event, like a heart attack or unstable angina, in 2018. A further 38,600 people aged over 25 had a stroke in the same year. That's roughly 161 heart attacks, and 100 strokes, every day.

A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare compiles all the latest data on heart disease in Australia. Richard Juckes is with the organisation. 

"These diseases have a huge impact on the health of Australians - and a lot of this impact is fatal. So in 2019, heart stroke and vascular diseases were the cause of 42,300 deaths, which is a quarter of all the deaths in Australia that year."

The report, "heart, stroke and vascular disease", uses data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Surveys. It shows that at least 62 per cent of the burden of ill-health from cardiovascular disease is caused by modifiable risk factors.

And that most Australian adults have at least some of those risk factors that cause heart disease.

"These include behaviours or exposures like smoking, poor diet, insufficient exercise, high blood pressure etc. And examining the data we found that 57% of adults had three or more of these modifiable cardiovascular risk factors. So there's potential I think for people to protect themselves better and for the improvements, we've seen in recent decades to continue. "

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