Prevalence & Population

Hypertension is the most common cardiovascular condition and is a leading contributor to premature death and disability. Currently, 2.1 million Australians are diagnosed with the condition[1] . Australia is not alone in this epidemic. In 2004-05, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease was highest amongst those who were born in North-West Europe (29%) followed by the United Kingdom (28%) and Southern Eastern Europe (28%), North Africa (19%) and the Middle East (19%)[2] . In Australia, lower socioeconomic groups appear to be at greater risk of cardiovascular disease and related mortality[3] . In 2004-05, people with cardiovascular disease were more likely to live in disadvantaged socioeconomic areas (those in the lowest SEIFA quintile) than those without cardiovascular diseases (22% compared with 17%)[4] .

At present, hypertension is the most frequently managed problem by General Practitioners (Britt, Miller & Knox, 2010)(not referenced below) and is a risk factor for other cardiovascular diseases[5] . One in three Australians, aged 24 years and over, have high blood pressure and prevalence rates indicate that hypertension increases with age. In 2004-05, 14% of 45-54 years reported hypertension, compared to 41% aged 75 years and over. Every year 3% of the adult population develop hypertension with the risk increasing from 1% for those aged between 25 and 34 years to 8% for those aged between 65 and 74 years[6] . The graph below, indicates similar findings, showing a strong positive relationship between hypertension and age in 1999-2000[7] .












chronic-hypertension_age_specific.jpg

Data from: AIHW analysis of 1999-2000 AusDiab

Furthermore, as indicated in the graph below (refers to BMI hypertension only), hypertension is more likely to develop in people who are physically inactive, overweight (BMI > 30kg/m²; waist circumference >102cm for men or >88cm for women) or who consume excess dietary sodium (>100mmol/d) or alcohol (>2 standard drinks/day for men or >1 standard drinks for women)[8] .












BMI_Hypet_prevalance.jpg

Data from: Bell, Adair & Popkins (2001). Ethnic difference in the association between body mass index and hypertension. American Journal of Epidemiology. (needs a legend)

Hypertension is even a greater concern for Indigenous Australians. In 2004–05, after adjusting for differences in age structures, approximately 14% of Indigenous males and 16% of Indigenous females reported high blood pressure or hypertension, compared to 10% of non-Indigenous males and females. In addition, Indigenous males and females had around four times as many hospitalisations for hypertensive disease than other males and females across all age groups, with approximately 40% of male and 60% of female Indigenous Australians hospitalised for hypertensive disease (AIHW, 2006) [9] .













Indigenous_Prevalence_of_Hypertensive_disease.jpg

Data from: ABS, National Health Survey: Summary of Results, Australia, 2004-05 cat. no 4364.0. Further details available from: http://www.naccho.org.au/resources/survey0405.html




In relation to direct health care expenditure, cardiovascular disease is the most expensive health condition, costing 11% ($5.4 billion) of the total allocated health system expenditure in 2000-01 [10] . Even more alarming is that the United States estimate spending $63.5 billion in one year alone in the management of hypertension[11] .














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  1. ^




    Sharman, J. & Stowasser, M. (2009). Australian Association for Exercise and Sports Science position statement on exercise and hypertension.Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport; 12, 252-257.
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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2006). Cardiovascular Disease in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05. ABS Cat. No. 4821.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra.
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    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2006), Socioeconomic inequalities in cardiovascular disease in Australia, Bulletin no. 37, AIHW Cat. No. AUS 74, AIHW, Canberra.
  4. ^ Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2005), Health system expenditure on disease and injury in Australia, 2000-01. 2nd edition, AIHW Cat. No. HWE 26, AIHW, Canberra.
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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2006). Cardiovascular Disease in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05. ABS Cat. No. 4821.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra.
  6. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2006). Cardiovascular Disease in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05. ABS Cat. No. 4821.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra.
  7. ^ Australian national agency for health and welfare statistics and information (2000). Prevalence of risk factors for chronic disease. Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/prevalence-of-risk-factors-for-chronic-diseases/#hypertension.
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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2006). Cardiovascular Disease in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05. ABS Cat. No. 4821.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra.
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    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2006), Socioeconomic inequalities in cardiovascular disease in Australia, Bulletin no. 37, AIHW Cat. No. AUS 74, AIHW, Canberra.
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    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2005), Health system expenditure on disease and injury in Australia, 2000-01. 2nd edition, AIHW Cat. No. HWE 26, AIHW, Canberra.
  11. ^ Contractor, A. & Gordon, N. Cited from: Ehrman, J. K., Gordon, P. M., Visich, P. S., & Keteyian, S. J. (2009). Clinical Exercise Physiology. Human Kinetics.