Research shows Australians are living longer lives but in poorer health

Oct 16, 2020
Young Australians are expected to live six years longer than those born 30 years ago but in poorer health. Source: Getty.

New research has found that Australians are living longer lives but in poorer health. The latest findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD), published in The Lancet on Friday, have found young Australians are expected to live six years longer than those born 30 years ago, but poor health will reduce the quality of life gained.

The research also found the threat of diabetes in Australia is rising, accounting for the third biggest cause of increased health loss between 1990 and 2019. The study also found more than half of health loss in Australia is now due to chronic diseases and injury, which are both largely preventable.

The study found the top five risk factors associated with the highest number of deaths in Australia in 2019 included high blood pressure (25,500 deaths), dietary risks (21,600 deaths), tobacco use (20,100), high body-mass index (18,700 deaths) and high fasting plasma glucose (17,700 deaths).

Meanwhile, the top five leading risk factors for declining health in Australia in 2019 were tobacco use, high body-mass index, high blood pressure, dietary risks and high fasting plasma glucose.

“The good news is life expectancy in Australia is increasing and deaths from heart disease continue to decline,” Bill Stavreski, Heart Foundation’s general manager of heart health, said. “The bad news is that we’re living longer in poorer health and many of our risk factors for heart disease continue to climb.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia. According to The Heart Foundation, one Australian has a heart attack every 10 minutes, and heart disease claims the life of one Australian every 28 minutes.

Stavreski continued: “These findings show that the top five risk factors for death and health loss in Australia are all leading risks for heart disease — our single biggest killer.

“These are risk factors that are largely preventable and treatable, like high blood pressure, smoking, poor diet and overweight and obesity. What’s more, several of these risk factors are associated with an increased risk of serious illness and death from Covid-19.

“As a nation, we cannot afford to underestimate the impact these risk factors can have on our heart health, our overall health and our ability to combat the threat of future pandemics.

“We’re also concerned to see that diabetes is one of the biggest contributors to increases in health loss in Australia in the last thirty years,” he said, explaining that people with diabetes are more than twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without diabetes.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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