Coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease (CHD; also known as ischaemic heart disease) happens when the coronary arteries get narrower and reduce the blood flow to the heart [34580]. It is the usual underlying cause of a heart attack.

CHD is a substantial problem for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [32052]. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have CHD or experience heart attacks [33326], and CHD is a common reason for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be hospitalised  [33152]. CHD is the leading cause of death for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people [33961]. Sadly, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who die because of CHD do so at relatively young ages.

In part, CHD levels are high because the risk factors for CHD are common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [32052][27711][28321] [33326]. The risk factors for CHD include:

  • smoking tobacco
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • being inactive
  • being overweight
  • an unhealthy diet
  • depression and isolation [34579].

It is important that all people who experience a heart attack or have CHD receive equally good clinical care. Currently, there are some aspects of best-practice CHD care that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are less likely to receive than non-Indigenous people [31937][32375], and this needs to be improved. Projects like the Lighthouse Hospital Project, the ESSENCE project, and Better Cardiac Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People are striving to achieve equity of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CHD patients.

References

Key resources

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