The National Heart Foundation says the release of the Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease—Australian facts: risk factors report is another wake up call for the Federal Government to commit to more health dollars being spent on prevention.
Heart Foundation National CEO Mary Barry says it is shameful the Federal Government spends only 1.7% of our health expenditure on prevention.
“This is a far cry from the New Zealand Government who spend 7% or the Canadian Government at almost 6%. We are third bottom of all the OECD countries,” Barry says.
The report, which uses data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011–12 Australian Health Survey paints a disturbing picture of the multitude of risk factors in the Australia population putting the majority of Australians at risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and some cancers.
95% of adults did not consume recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables in their diets, 56% were inactive or insufficiently active, 20% exceeded lifetime alcohol risk guidelines and 16% smoked daily.
“These are not just statistics, they are early death sentences,” says Barry.
“Two-thirds of the adult population (66%) were reported as having three or more risk factors at the same time, including 10% with five or six risk factors.
“People with multiple risk factors have markedly increased risk, and could face a lifetime plagued with illness,” Barry says.
Adults living with cardiovascular disease were more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure (2.1 times), be overweight or obese (1.3 times), have dyslipidaemia (1.3 times) and be inactive or insufficiently active (1.2 times).
Four in five adults with cardiovascular disease (84%) also reported having three or more risk factors at the same time, including 18% with five or six risk factors.
“This should be a wake up call for all governments that prevention must not be neglected and much more needs to be done to address the modifiable risk factors,” says Barry.
“Cardiovascular disease remains the biggest killer of Australians and is the most expensive disease to treat nationally.
“Whilst great work has been made in some areas such as plain packaging tobacco, we need to be doing more to tackle physical inactivity which has emerged as a separate risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is having no small part in our growing waist lines,” she says.