Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease risk factors common among Australians

A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that two-in-three Australian adults have at least 3 or more risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

'Risk factors are behaviours or characteristics that increase the likelihood of developing a particular disease, and people with more than one risk factor are at greater risk,' said AIHW spokesperson Sushma Mathur.

The report, Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease-Australian facts: risk factors shows that multiple risk factors are more common among people with cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes or chronic kidney disease (CKD) than for the overall population.

'For people with diabetes nearly all adults (94%) had 3 or more risk factors, and for CVD and CKD 84% and 77%, respectively, had 3 or more risk factors,' Ms Mathur said.

The risk of developing CVD, diabetes or CKD is closely associated with smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and the harmful use of alcohol, which in turn contribute to overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels.

According to the report, almost all adults (95%) did not consume recommended amounts of  2 serves of fruit and  5 serves of vegetables and almost two-in-three were overweight or obese (63%). Further, over half (56%) were inactive or insufficiently active, 32% had high blood pressure, 33% high blood cholesterol and 16% smoked daily.

Generally, men, people living in outer regional and remote areas and people in low socioeconomic groups had higher rates of risk factors.

'The good news is that most of these risk factors are modifiable, or can be controlled to help reduce the risk of developing these chronic diseases,' Ms Mathur said.

Adults with diabetes (compared to those without diabetes) were more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure, be overweight or obese, and have abnormal amounts of lipids such as cholesterol in the blood (dyslipidaemia).

Those with CVD (compared with those without CVD) were more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure, be overweight or obese, have dyslipidaemia, and be insufficiently active.

Those with CKD (compared with those without CKD) were more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure or have elevated blood glucose levels.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.


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