I am
Show me:
Show me:
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Key Statistics: Risk factors for heart disease

Key takeaways

Many different risk factors increase your likelihood of developing Cardiovascular disease (CVD).

2 min read

There are many different risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing a heart disease, such as cardiovascular disease.  

Explore the latest statistics relating to heart disease risk factors below. 

Medical Risk Factors

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (or hypertension) is a common condition of the circulatory system and is widely recognised as the leading risk factor for CVD¹

  • One third of adults have high blood pressure²
  • However, only 5 per cent of adults nominate high blood pressure as a key risk factor for heart disease.³

High Cholesterol4

High blood cholesterol⁴ is a significant risk factor for developing Cardiovascular disease

  • Two in five adults are living with high cholesterol2
  • Only 8% of adults nominate high cholesterol as a key risk factor for heart disease3

 

Lifestyle Risk Factors

Modifiable risk factors (e.g. cigarette smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet) contribute significantly to the risk of CVD.

Being Overweight or Obese2

You’re classified overweight if your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or over. 

  • Two in three adults are overweight or obese³
  • Three in ten adults believe that being overweight is a key risk factor in heart disease³

Smoking2

The smoking statistics below are in regards to ‘current smokers’, which is defined as a person that smokes daily, weekly, or less than weekly. 
  • Almost 3 million people over 15 years are current smokers
  • Smoking rates are down overall but increasing in males 25-34 years
  • Thirty-seven per cent of adults believe that smoking is a key risk factor in heart disease3

Physical Inactivity2

Physical inactivity refers to a combination of inactivity, based on reported exercise and workplace activity.
  • Four in five adults do not meet national guides for physical activity including exercise⁹
  • One in seven do no form of physical activity and this is rising
  • Just over two in five adults believe that being inactive is a key risk factor in heart disease3

Alcohol Consumption2

  • More than 3 million adults exceed alcohol consumption guidelines¹¹
  • Men are twice as likely to exceed the guidelines
  • Only 13% of adults believe that alcohol consumption is a key risk factor in heart disease3

Diet

  • Adults not meeting the recommended intake for vegetables5 has increased over the past two decades to 92 per cent.
  • Improving vegetable intake to meet the recommended 5 serves per day is estimated to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 16%



Referencces

¹ Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation 2018, Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 (GBD 2017) Results, Global Burden of Disease collective Network, Seattle, available from http://ghdx.healthdata.org/gbd-results-tool
² Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, National Health Survey 2017-18, Data customised using TableBuilder.
³ HeartWatch Survey June 2019
 Prevalence of high cholesterol is defined as all Australian adults that had high measured total cholesterol, and/or self-reported as having high cholesterol.
5Heart Foundation Dietary Position Statement 2019

You might also be interested in

Key Statistics: Heart Disease in Australia

Key Statistics: Heart Disease in Australia

Statistics and information on heart disease prevalence, mortality and hospitalisations....

Australian Heart Maps

Australian Heart Maps

Australian Heart Maps

Our Heart Maps allow you to take a closer look at heart disease indicators across Australia....

Interactive Australian Heart Maps

Interactive Australian Heart Maps

Compare heart health indicators across Australia...

Interactive Victorian Heart Maps

Interactive Victorian Heart Maps

Compare heart health indicators across Victoria...

Key Statistics: Cardiovascular Disease

Key Statistics: Cardiovascular Disease

Key data and statistics about CVD....

Key Statistics: Coronary Heart Disease

Key Statistics: Coronary Heart Disease

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Key Statistics: Heart attack

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join the Heart Foundation community. Together, we can make a real difference for Australian hearts. ...

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Find heart healthy Italian recipes....

Supporting Young Hearts Program

Supporting Young Hearts Program

Information and resources for health professionals who are treating patients between 18 - 40 years of age....

WEBINAR | Supporting young hearts: Ask a Cardiologist

WEBINAR | Supporting young hearts: Ask a Cardiologist

WEBINAR | Supporting young hearts: Ask a Cardiologist

Sat Oct 17 2020
Free

Breakfast recipes

Breakfast recipes

Breakfast recipes

Heart healthy breakfasts to start your day right...

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

One of the most powerful ways to help support a future without heart disease is to include a gift to the Heart Foundation in your Will...

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

What are the best sources of protein when it come to your heart health...

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

What waist measurements mean for your heart

What waist measurements mean for your heart

What waist measurements mean for your heart

How your waist measurement contributes to your heart health...

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Physical activity and exercise can do wonders for your physical and mental health....

Absolute CVD risk calculator

Absolute CVD risk calculator

The Absolute CVD risk calculator estimates the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years....

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Sodium and salt converter

Sodium and salt converter

Convert the sodium listed on food products into grams of salt or vice versa. ...

Supporting Young Hearts

Supporting Young Hearts

Supporting Young Hearts

Advice from young people living with a heart condition....

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition. ...

CVD and COVID-19 Grant

CVD and COVID-19 Grant

Grants to support ground-breaking research focused on COVID-19 and its interaction with heart conditions....

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

Cooking at home is often healthier than eating out....

Smoking and your heart

Smoking and your heart

Smoking and your heart

Understand how smoking can impact your heart health. ...

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

What is heart disease?

What is heart disease?

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is the broad term for conditions that affect the structure and function of the heart muscle. ...

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...

Women's heart stories

Women's heart stories

Women's heart stories

Women's stories from around Australia...

Become a corporate partner

Become a corporate partner

Become a corporate partner

Partner with us to help us fight for Australian hearts....