Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an umbrella term for major diseases of the heart and blood vessels, including heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.

CVD is the leading cause of death in Australia, accounting for 30% of deaths among men and 35% among women, which represents more than 45,000 deaths per year. Someone in Australia dies from a heart attack every 10 minutes. In addition, over a million people in this country are disabled by CVD.

CVD was estimated to account for 18% of the overall disease burden in Australia in 2003. CVD costs Australia $5.9 billion per year in terms of direct health-care expenditure, making it Australia’s most expensive disease group. The prevalence of the disease is also increasing, with an 18% rise over the last decade.

Major risk factors for CVD include smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, insufficient physical activity, diabetes and obesity. Risk strongly increases with age and is higher for men, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and people from lower socioeconomic groups.

Research at SVI is directed towards improved understanding of why CVD occurs and finding better ways to prevent and treat it. Through clinical research studies SVI researchers are investigating the mechanisms of heart disease and ways to help identify those at increased risk of heart disease so that they can be given treatment to prevent it occurring.

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