Notes on the data: Chronic diseases and conditions

Estimated population with circulatory system diseases, 2011–12


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. Circulatory system diseases are also largely age-related.

Circulatory system diseases are also largely age-related. In 2017–18, 16.6% of Australians (or just over 4 million people) reported having a disease of the circulatory system [1]. Indigenous Australians, people of lower socioeconomic status, males over the age of 45 years, and males living in rural and remote areas are at increased risk for developing and dying from circulatory system diseases [2]. Hypertension accounted for almost two thirds (63.6%) of these conditions; and heart, stroke and vascular diseases for a further 28.8% [1].


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Australian Health Survey: Health service usage and health related actions, 2017-18. (ABS Cat. no. 4364055001DO003). Canberra: ABS, 2018.
  2. AIHW. Socioeconomic inequalities in cardiovascular disease in Australia: current picture and trends since 1992. (AIHW Cat. no. AUS 74.) Canberra: AIHW; 2006.

Notes:  Estimates for quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Areas are direct estimates from the 2011–12 AHS, extracted using the ABS Survey TableBuilder.

Small area estimates:

Data by Population Health Area, Local Government Area and Primary Health Network are available for the 2014-15 National Health Survey in the data archive.

Indicator detail

As part of the AHS, respondents were asked if they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they had one or more heart or other circulatory system conditions and if they considered they currently have one or more such conditions. The following conditions, however, were assumed to be current long-term conditions:

  • rheumatic heart disease;
  • heart attack;
  • heart failure;
  • stroke;
  • angina.

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


Geography:  Data available by Quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


Numerator:   Estimated number of people aged 2 years and over with circulatory system diseases as a current, long-term condition


Denominator:   Population aged 2 years and over


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 direct estimates from the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey, ABS Survey TableBuilder.


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