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Heart Disease

Heart disease refers to a range of conditions that affect your heart; these include blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); and heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects), among others.


The term ‘heart disease’ is often used interchangeably with the term ‘cardiovascular disease’.

Keeping your heart healthy, whatever your age, is the most important thing you can do to help prevent and manage heart disease.


Heart disease is a major cause of death and permanent disability in Australia.


  • A person dies of heart disease every 12 minutes [i]
  • Someone has an acute heart event (heart attack or angina) every 8 minutes [ii]
  • 1,525[iii] people per day are hospitalised for heart disease.
  • 1,578[iv] people per day are hospitalised with heart disease as an associated condition.
  • In 2009 Access Economics reported that each single heart attack had an estimated lifetime cost of approximately $281,000[v] which in 2016/17 equated to approximately $444,000[vi].


Heart disease is one of Australia's largest health concerns. Despite improvements over the last few decades, it remains one of the biggest burdens on our economy.  In 2008/09 it cost Australia around $7.6bn [vii] equal to an estimated $12bn [viii] in 2016/17.


Heart Disease Symptoms Can Include:


  • Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure and chest discomfort (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back
  • Fluttering in your chest
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness / Dizziness
  • Fainting or near fainting
  • Pale grey or blue skin colour
  • Swelling in the legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes
  • Easily tiring during exercise or activity
  • Fatigue


If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is best to seek medical advice immediately.



[i] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

[ii] ibid

[iii] ibid

[iv] ibid

[v] Access Economics. The economic costs of heart attack and chest pain (Acute Coronary Syndrome). Canberra: Access Economics, 2009

[vi] Based on expenditure growth using: Health Expenditure Australia; AIHW, 2016-2017.

[vii] AIHW

[viii] Based on expenditure growth using: Health Expenditure Australia; AIHW, 2016-2017.

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