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May 20, 2010

Baby-boomers facing time-bomb of cardiovascular diseases

Executive Summary

Australians born before 1955 now represent just over 25% of the population. These Australians may be dubbed ‘Generation Risk’ given the prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular events (heart attack, stroke or death) in this growing population.
This major study has estimated the five year cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk spectrum of Australians aged 55 years and over. It includes a review of the significant burden CVD imposes each year, the prevalence of eight known CVD risk factors, an estimation of absolute five year CVD risk prevalence in 2010, and the impact population growth and ageing will have on absolute CVD risk prevalence in the next 20 years.
The study classified Australians aged 55 years of over according to their risk of experiencing a fatal or non-fatal CVD event in the next five years, from Mild ‘mid range’ (2.5%≤CVD<5%) to Extreme (CVD≥30%) risk. The findings are compelling. Click here to download the Access Economics Report

  • More than 1.1 million people are at Extreme Risk (≥30%) of a CVD event in the next five years.
  • A further 1.5 million people are at High, Very High or Severe (15%≤CVD<30%) CVD risk. ■ Almost 50% of people (63.7% of males and 33.2% of females) are at High risk or greater
  • (CVD≥15%) of experiencing a CVD event in the next five years.
  • There are twice as many females that fall within the Mild to Moderate CVD risk range (2.5%≤CVD<15%).
  • While 480,000 females are estimated to have Mild ‘mid-range’ CVD risk (2.5%≤CVD<5%), there are no males within this risk category.
  • Approximately 14% of people have already experienced a CVD event (twice as many males as females). A further 70,000 will be hospitalised due to a CVD event this year, and around 17,000 lives will be lost.
  • Population growth and ageing is expected to increase Extreme CVD risk by around 85% in the next 20 years. Furthermore, it is expected to increase High, Very High or Severe CVD risk by 89%, 77% and 69% respectively.
  • Adherence to medication designed to reduce CVD risk is poor. Around 80% of patients prescribed commonly used blood pressure lowering medications discontinue therapy within 30 months. Adherence to these medications reduces the risk of a CVD event by around 22% when compared to no drug treatment.

However, the prevalence of CVD risk factors among Australians aged 55 years and older remains significant. It is estimated that in 2010, of those aged 55 years and over:
■    10% continue to smoke;

■    77% are physically inactive;

■    51% have hypertension;

■    58% have high cholesterol;

■    71% are either overweight or obese;

■    26% have diabetes;

■    12% have a family history of premature CVD; and

■    14% have had a prior CVD event.