‘Diabesity’ threatens 50 years of health progress

Australia is facing a resurgence of cardiovascular disease – the country’s number one killer

A deadly combination of obesity and type 2 diabetes, in addition to rising rates of atrial fibrillation and heart failure, are fuelling “a new era of heart disease”, according to a report by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

The report, Change of Heart – Time to End Cardiovascular Complacency, reveals that the decline in the death rate from cardiovascular disease has slowed over the past five years, due to rising rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity (“diabesity”) and a new epidemic of age-related heart conditions.

While the life expectancy of Australians has increased by more than a decade over the last half century – the majority of this progress due to fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease – Baker IDI director Professor Tom Marwick says these achievements are now in jeopardy.

“This report is a wake-up call to end cardiovascular complacency. We have the tools at our disposal to treat Australians at risk better, and to tackle the root causes of obesity and type 2 diabetes,” he says.

“Adding further fuel to the fire, too many Australians with risk factors for heart disease such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes remain untreated or not treated to recommended targets,” Professor Marwick adds.

“There are many actions that Government can take but the cost of ignoring these challenges will be increasing health costs and more strain on the hospital system.”

The report warns that cardiovascular disease now affects more than 3.7 million Australians, accounts for more than 45,000 deaths each year and is Australia’s most costly health condition.

“It is imperative that we end cardiovascular complacency. All Australians have a role to play,” says Professor Marwick.

The report calls for:

  • Development of a national cardiovascular disease strategy;
  • Regulation and public policy to prevent overconsumption of sugar and salt;
  • Support for health professionals to ensure Australians with known risk factors for heart disease are treated to recommended medical targets; and,
  • Introduction of preventative lifestyle strategies at an early age.

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