Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular health involves the heart, arteries, veins and other components of the circulatory system [33627]. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a term used to include all of the major diseases of the heart and circulatory system:

  • coronary (ischaemic) heart disease (CHD)
  • heart failure
  • cerebrovascular disease (including stroke)
  • peripheral vascular disease
  • rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

It also includes key risk factors like:

  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • high blood cholesterol.

CVD is a substantial problem for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community [32052]. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people report that they have CVD [27711][32961], and CVD is a significant cause of hospitalisation [33073]. It is also the leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [33152]. Sadly, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who die because of CVD do so at relatively young ages [33961].

In part, CVD levels are high because the risk factors for CVD are common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [32052][27711][28321]. Many of the cardiovascular diseases share risk factors, such as:

  • tobacco smoking
  • physical inactivity
  • poor nutrition
  • being overweight and obese
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood cholesterol
  • diabetes [33627].

Other risk factors include socioeconomic and psychosocial factors. The exception is RHD (including acute rheumatic fever), which is specifically associated with poor living conditions.

A number of actions have been identified that would improve cardiovascular disease rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [32583]. These actions include strategic advocacy, increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in primary and tertiary health services, improving communication between health providers, defining and overcoming barriers to cardiac specialist care in regional and remote settings, establishing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CVD coordinator positions in tertiary hospitals, and ensuring that programs are culturally sensitive and integrated.

References

Key resources

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Workforce information

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Artwork

Ceremonial Grounds by Jimmy Njamme Tjampitjin

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of people who have passed away.
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