abnormal blood lipid levels: Abnormal levels of fats in the blood, such as cholesterol or triglycerides. Here it has been defined as total cholesterol ≥5.5 mmol/L, LDL cholesterol ≥3.5 mmol/L, HDL cholesterol <1.0 mmol/L in men or <1.3 mmol/L in women, triglycerides ≥2mmol/L, or use of lipid-modifying medication.

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander: A person of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

acute coronary event (ACE): An umbrella term that is used to describe sudden and life threatening conditions that result in reduced blood flow to the heart. The term includes acute myocardial infarction (sometimes referred to as heart attack), unstable angina, and deaths due to acute coronary heart disease.

acute coronary syndrome: Describes an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and unstable angina when they first present as clinical emergencies with chest pain or other features.

acute myocardial infarction (AMI): Life-threatening emergency that occurs when a vessel supplying blood to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked completely by a blood clot.

additional diagnosis: The diagnosis of a condition or recording of a complaint—either coexisting with the principal diagnosis or arising during the episode of admitted patient care (hospitalisation), episode of residential care or attendance at a health care establishment—that requires the provision of care. Multiple diagnoses may be recorded.

age-standardisation: A way to remove the influence of age when comparing populations with different age structures. This is usually necessary because the rates of many diseases vary strongly (usually increasing) with age. The age structures of the different populations are converted to the same 'standard' structure, and then the disease rates that would have occurred with that structure are calculated and compared.

angina: Temporary chest pain or discomfort when the heart’s own blood supply is inadequate to meet extra needs, as can occur during physical activity.

angioplasty: A method of reducing a blockage in an artery by opening out a balloon placed inside the artery at the point of narrowing.

arrhythmia: Also known as dysrhythmia, is a fault in the heart’s electrical system, which affects its pumping rhythm. The abnormal electrical activity makes the heart muscle beat too fast, slow or in an irregular way.

associated cause(s) of death: A cause(s) listed on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, other than the underlying cause of death. They include the immediate cause, any intervening causes, and conditions that contributed to the death but were not related to the disease or condition causing death.

atherosclerosis: A process in which fatty and fibre-like deposits build up on the inner walls of arteries, often forming plaques that can then cause blockages. It is the main underlying condition in heart attack, angina, stroke and peripheral arterial disease.

atrial fibrillation: An uneven and fast heartbeat.

blood cholesterol: Fatty substance produced by the liver and carried by the blood to supply the rest of the body. Its natural function is to supply material for cell walls and for steroid hormones, but if levels in the blood become too high this can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

blood pressure: The force exerted by the blood on the walls of the arteries as it is pumped around the body by the heart. It is written, for example, as 134/70 mmHg, where the upper number is the systolic pressure (the maximum force against the arteries as the heart muscle contracts to pump the blood out) and the lower number is the diastolic pressure (the minimum force against the arteries as the heart relaxes and fills again with blood). Levels of blood pressure can vary greatly from person to person and from moment to moment in the same person. See also high blood pressure/hypertension.

body mass index (BMI): The most commonly used method of assessing whether a person is normal weight, underweight, overweight or obese (see obesity). It is calculated by dividing the person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres) squared—that is, kg ÷ m2. For both men and women, underweight is a BMI below 18.5, normal weight is from 18.5 to less than 25, overweight but not obese is from 25 to less than 30, and obese is 30 and over. Sometimes overweight and obese are combined—defined as a BMI of 25 and over.

burden of disease and injury: The term that refers to the quantified impact of a disease or injury on an individual or population, using the disability-adjusted life year (DALY) measure.

cardiomyopathy: A condition in which there is direct and widespread damage to the heart muscle, weakening it. The condition can be due to various causes such as viral infections and severe alcohol abuse, and it can lead to an enlarged, thickened and dilated heart as well as heart failure.

cardiovascular disease (CVD): Any disease of the circulatory system, namely the heart (cardio) or blood vessels (vascular). Includes heart attack, angina, stroke and peripheral arterial disease. CVD is also known as circulatory disease.

cause(s) of death: All diseases, morbid conditions or injuries that either resulted in or contributed to death—and the circumstances of the accident or violence that produced any such injuries—that are entered on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Causes of death are commonly reported by the underlying cause of death. See also associated cause(s) of death and multiple causes of death.

cerebrovascular disease: Any disorder of the blood vessels supplying the brain or its covering membranes. A notable and major form of cerebrovascular disease is stroke.

chronic diseases: Term applied to a diverse group of diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis, that tend to be long-lasting and persistent in their symptoms or development. Although these features also apply to some communicable diseases, the term is usually confined to non-communicable diseases.

circulatory disease: Alternative name for cardiovascular disease.

circulatory system: The heart and the blood vessels, comprising the system that circulates blood around the body to supply oxygen and nutrients to all body tissues and to carry away waste products from them. Also known as the cardiovascular system.

comorbidity: Defined in relation to an index disease/condition, comorbidity describes any additional disease that is experienced by a person while they have the index disease. The index and comorbid disease/condition will change depending on the focus of the study. Compare with multimorbidity.

confidence interval: A range determined by variability in data, within which there is a specified (usually 95%) chance that the true value of a calculated parameter lies.

congenital: A condition that is recognised at birth, or that is believed to have been present since birth, including conditions that are inherited or caused by environmental factors.

coronary artery bypass graft (CABG): Surgical procedure using blood vessel grafts to bypass blockages in the coronary arteries and restore adequate blood flow to the heart muscle.

coronary heart disease (CHD): Disease due to blockages in the heart’s own (coronary) arteries, expressed as angina or a heart attack. Also known as ischaemic heart disease.

disability-adjusted life year (DALY): A year of healthy life lost, either through premature death or equivalently through living with disability due to illness or injury. It is the basic unit used in burden of disease and injury estimates.

first-ever stroke: A stroke occurring for the first time in a person’s life.

heart attack: Life-threatening emergency that occurs when a vessel supplying blood to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked completely by a blood clot. The medical term commonly used for a heart attack is acute myocardial infarction.

heart failure: When the heart functions less effectively in pumping blood around the body. It can result from a wide variety of diseases and conditions that can impair or overload the heart, such as heart attack, other conditions that damage the heart muscle directly (see cardiomyopathy), high blood pressure, or a damaged heart valve.

high blood cholesterol: Total cholesterol levels above 5.5 mmol/L.

high blood pressure/hypertension: The definition of high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can vary but a well-accepted one is from the World Health Organization: a systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or more or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or more, or [the person is] receiving medication for high blood pressure. Also see blood pressure.

hospitalisation: Synonymous with admission and separation; that is, an episode of hospital care that starts with the formal admission process and ends with the formal separation process. An episode of care can be completed by the patient’s being discharged, being transferred to another hospital or care facility, or dying, or by a portion of a hospital stay starting or ending in a change of type of care (for example, from acute to rehabilitation).

hypertension: See high blood pressure.

incidence: The number of new cases (of an illness or event, and so on) occurring during a given period. Compare with prevalence.

ischaemic heart disease: See heart attack and angina (chest pain). Also known as coronary heart disease.

lipids: Fatty substances, including cholesterol and triglycerides, that are in blood and body tissues.

multiple causes of death: All the causes listed on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. These include the underlying cause of death and all associated cause(s) of death. See also cause(s) of death.

peripheral arterial disease: Characterised by pain in the extremities, often the legs, due to an inadequate blood supply to them.

plaque (atherosclerotic): A localised area of atherosclerosis, especially when raised or built up, and that may cause blockages in arteries.

prevalence: The number or proportion (of cases, instances, and so forth) in a population at a given time. For example, in relation to cancer, refers to the number of people alive who had been diagnosed with cancer in a prescribed period (usually 1, 5, 10 or 26 years). Compare with incidence.

principal diagnosis: The diagnosis established after study to be chiefly responsible for occasioning an episode of patient care (hospitalisation), an episode of residential care or an attendance at the health care establishment. Diagnoses are recorded using the relevant edition of the International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification (ICD-10-AM).

procedure: A clinical intervention that is surgical in nature, carries a procedural risk, carries an anaesthetic risk, and requires specialist training and/or special facilities or equipment available only in the acute-care setting.

remoteness: A system which classifies geographical locations into groups (Major cities, Inner regional, Outer regional, Remote, Very remote) according to distance from major population centres and services. In these analysis, remoteness is based on Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) and defined as Remoteness Areas by the Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (ASGS) (in each Census year). Remoteness is a geographical concept and does not take account of accessibility which is influenced by factors such as the socioeconomic status or mobility of a population.

revascularisation: (‘re-vesselling’) Restoring adequate blood flow to the heart or other part of the body, usually after the supply has been reduced or blocked, as in angina or a heart attack. Revascularisation includes methods such as angioplasty and coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

rheumatic fever: An acute, serious disease that affects mainly children and young adults and can damage the heart valves, the heart muscle and its lining, the joints and the brain. Is brought on by a reaction to a throat infection by a particular bacterium. Now very rare in the non-Indigenous population, it is still at unacceptably high levels among Indigenous Australians living in remote areas. See rheumatic heart disease.

rheumatic heart disease (RHD): Chronic disease from damaged heart valves caused by earlier attack(s) of rheumatic fever.

risk factor: Any factor which represents a greater risk of a health disorder or other unwanted condition or event. Some risk factors are regarded as causes of disease, others are not necessarily so. Along with their opposites, protective factors, risk factors are known as determinants.

socioeconomic groups: Is an indication of how 'well off' a person or group is. Socioeconomic groups are reported using the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), whereby areas are classified on the basis of social and economic information (such as low income, low educational attainment, high levels of public sector housing, high unemployment and jobs in relatively unskilled occupations) collected in the Census of Population and Housing. Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas, are divided into 5 groups, from the most disadvantaged (worst off) to the least disadvantaged (best off). Note, that this index refers to the average disadvantage of all people living in an area, not to the level of disadvantage of a specific individual.

stent: A metal mesh tube that is expanded within an artery at a point of narrowing and left there to hold the artery open.

stroke: An event that occurs when an artery supplying blood to the brain suddenly becomes blocked or bleeds. A stroke often causes paralysis of parts of the body normally controlled by that area of the brain, or speech problems and other symptoms. It is a major form of cerebrovascular disease.

thrombolysis: Emergency ‘clot-busting’ drug treatment for a heart attack.

thrombosis: Clotting of blood, with the term usually applied to clotting within a blood vessel due to disease, as in a heart attack or stroke.

transient ischaemic attack (TIA): A ‘mini’ stroke, with temporary problems in speech or paralysis that last for 24 hours or less, often only minutes. It is a strong warning sign of a more severe stroke.

underlying cause of death: The disease or injury that initiated the train of events leading directly to death, or the circumstances of the accident or violence that produced the fatal injury. See also cause(s) of death and associated cause(s) of death.

unstable angina: A form of angina that is more dangerous than normal angina but less so than a heart attack. It can feature chest pain that occurs at rest; and in someone who already has angina it can be marked by new patterns of onset with exertion or by pain that comes on more easily, more often or for longer than previously.

vascular: Relating to blood vessels.