This media release contains information some readers may find distressing as it refers to data about suicide and self-harm
Australians are losing fewer years of healthy life to coronary heart disease, but it still remains the leading contributor to the nation’s collective ‘disease burden’, a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found.
The Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2018 measures the years of healthy life Australians lost due to 219 diseases and 40 risk factors. Years living with poor health (the non-fatal burden of disease) or dying prematurely (fatal burden) are estimated using disability-adjusted life years (DALY).
‘Between 2003 and 2018, coronary heart disease had the largest reduction in DALY rate, falling from 21 to 10 DALY per 1,000 people, mainly driven by large declines in people dying prematurely from the disease. However, it remained the leading cause of burden of disease, making up 6.3% of the total burden in 2018,’ said AIHW spokesperson Richard Juckes.
‘There was also a decline in total disease burden from stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung and bowel cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Total burden increased for dementia and back pain and other back problems.’
The latest burden of disease study includes some risk factors that haven’t been analysed previously, including low birthweight &short gestation and school-based bullying victimisation.
‘Low birthweight & short gestation was responsible for 33,672 DALY, or 0.7% of the total disease burden in 2018. It was the leading risk factor causing disease burden for Australians aged under 15 years, responsible for 11% of total burden in this age group,’ Mr. Juckes said.
‘School-based bullying victimisation was responsible for 5,207 DALY. Despite only representing 0.1% of total disease burden in Australia. It was the 3rd most important risk factor for anxiety and depressive disorders in females of all age groups, behind child abuse & neglect and intimate partner violence.’
The report includes detailed information on disease burden for males and females and in different age groups. Some of the key findings include:
The report builds on the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018: key findings, which was released in August 2021.
Other reports from the Australian Burden of Disease Study released this year include Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018: key findings for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and The health impact of suicide and self-inflicted injuries in Australia, 2019.
Another report, The first year of COVID-19 in Australia: direct and indirect health effects, contains information on the burden of disease from COVID-19 in 2020.
‘Burden of disease research is recognised as the best method to measure the overall impact of different diseases or injuries in a population and is used as an evidence base for health policy, programs and service delivery,’ Mr. Juckes said.
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