Notes on the data: Chronic diseases and conditions

Estimated population with heart, stroke and vascular disease, 2014–15


Policy context:  The heart, blood and blood vessels make up the circulatory system. The leading conditions contributing to circulatory system disease burden and mortality are hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and ischaemic heart disease (coronary heart disease). These diseases are mainly caused by a damaged blood supply to the heart, brain and/or limbs, and share a number of risk factors. Behavioural risk factors, such as poor diet and tobacco smoking, contribute significantly to the likelihood of developing a circulatory system disease. Heart, stroke and vascular disease includes the circulatory system diseases of heart attack, cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke, heart failure and angina.

In 2014–15, almost 1.2 million people (or 5.2%) had one or more heart, stroke, or vascular diseases with a higher rate for males (5.7% or 645,500 males) than females (4.7% or 544,600 females). 


Notes:  In the absence of data from administrative data sets, estimates are provided for certain chronic diseases and conditions from the 2014–15 National Health Survey (NHS), conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Estimates at the PHA level are modelled estimates produced by the ABS, as described below (estimates at the LGA and PHN level were derived from the PHA estimates).

Users of these modelled estimates should note that they do not represent data collected in administrative or other data sets. As such, they should be used with caution, and treated as indicative of the likely social dimensions present in an area with these demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

The numbers are estimates for an area, not measured events as are, for example, death statistics. As such, they should be viewed as a tool that, when used in conjunction with local area knowledge and taking into consideration the prediction reliability, can provide useful information that can assist with decision making for small geographic regions. Of particular note is that the true value of the published estimates is also likely to vary within a range of values as shown by the upper and lower limits published in the data (xls) and viewable in the bar chart in the single map atlases.

What the modelled estimates do achieve, however, is to summarise the various demographic, socioeconomic and administrative information available for an area in a way that indicates the expected level of each health indicator for an area with those characteristics. In the absence of accurate, localised information about the health indicator, such predictions can usefully contribute to policy and program development, service planning and other decision-making processes that require an indication of the geographic distribution of the health indicator.

The survey response rate of around 85% provides a high level of coverage across the population; however, the response rate among some groups is lower than among other groups, e.g., those living in the most disadvantaged areas have a lower response rate than those living in less disadvantaged areas. Although the sample includes the majority of people living in households in private dwellings, it excludes those living in the most remote areas of Australia; whereas these areas comprise less than 3% of the total population, Aboriginal people comprise up to one third of the population in these areas. This and other limitations of the method mean that estimates have not been published for PHAs with populations under 1,000, or with a high proportion of their population in:

  1. non-private dwellings (hospitals, gaols, nursing homes - and also excludes members of the armed forces);
  2. in Very Remote areas;
  3. in discrete Aboriginal communities; and
  4. where the relative root mean square errors (RRMSEs) on the estimates was 1 or more (estimate replaced with ≠)


  1. Estimates with RRMSEs from 0.25 and to 0.50 have been marked (~) to indicate that they should be used with caution; and those greater than 0.50 but less than 1 are marked (~~) to indicate that the estimate is considered too unreliable for general use.
  2. For the PHN data, differences between the PHN totals and the sum of LGAs within PHNs result from the use of different concordances.

Indicator detail

In the NHS, respondents were asked if they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they had one or more of the following heart, stroke and vascular diseases (also referred to cardiovascular disease) and it was current and long-term at the time of the interview:

  • angina, heart attack and other ischaemic heart diseases;
  • stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases;
  • oedema;
  • heart failure;
  • diseases of the arteries, arterioles and capillaries.

A current and long-term condition is defined as a condition that is current and has lasted, or is expected to last, for 6 months or more.

For the first time in 2014–15, persons who reported having ischaemic heart diseases and cerebrovascular diseases that were not current and long-term at the time of interview were also included. It is also worth noting that a transient ischaemic attack or "mini-stroke" was included on the interviewers prompt card in the 2014–15 NHS and coded to 'other cerebrovascular diseases'. This has seen an increased number of 'other cerebrovascular diseases' from 4,900 people in 2011–12 to 171,200 people in 2014–15 and a decrease in the number of people in 'stroke' from 240,000 in 2011–12 to 172,300 people in 2014–15. For more information, refer to the National Health Survey: First results, 2014–15, Explanatory Notes


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area and Primary Health Network


Numerator:  Estimated number of people with cardiovascular disease as a long-term condition


Denominator:  Total population


Detail of analysis:  Indirectly age-standardised rate per 100 population; and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on modelled estimates from the 2014–15 National Health Survey, ABS (unpublished).


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