Treatment and care a factor in massive decline in CV deaths

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Better diagnosis, treatment and care have made significant contributions to a substantial decline in the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The new report released last week, Trends in cardiovascular deaths, found an 82 per cent reduction in death from cardiovascular disease between 1968 and 2015.

Deaths from cardiovascular disease reached a peak in 1968, with 830 deaths per 100,000 population, but fell to 151 per 100,000 population in 2015.

According to the AIHW, cardiovascular disease was responsible for 55 per cent of all deaths in Australia the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 2015, cardiovascular disease was responsible for 29 per cent of all deaths. 

The report attributed the dramatic fall to advances in diagnosis and treatment, including  greater numbers of specialists and other health-care providers focusing on cardiovascular disease, better emergency medical services for heart attack and stroke, and an increase in specialised coronary care and stroke units.

Yet the report also found the cardiovascular disease burden remains significant, with 95 per cent of Australians living with at least one modifiable risk factor, and two-thirds (66 per cent) having three or more risk factors.

Around one-third of Australian adults have high blood pressure, two-thirds are ovrerweight or obese, and almost half do not participate in sufficient physical activity. Over 1.2 million Australians have diabetes.

It also found the decline in deaths was uneven across age groups, with falls in the death rate from forms of cardiovascular disease accelerating in some older age groups while slowing in younger age groups.

"The slowing of falls in cardiovascular disease death rates are concerning, given the high disease burden, and the potential social and economic impacts. They highlight the need for effective and targeted prevention strategies," it said.