Media releases

May 6, 2015

Men hospitalised at twice the rate of women for heart disease

Of the 41,971 primary cardiovascular hospital claims made by Medibank members in FY13/14, men accounted for 60% (25,259) claims, while women represented 40% (16,712) claims.

The Medibank member data proves that men[1] are being hospitalised for heart-related diseases at almost double the rate of women. 

“Surprisingly this male dominated trend continued across almost all age groups from under 55s right up to 84 year olds with a significantly higher proportion of cardiovascular hospital admissions observed in the 60-79 age group, compared to females (see fig.3).”“Acute myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack), Angina and Coronary Heart Diseases[2] were the top cardiovascular conditions with the highest number of male hospital claims compared to females (see fig.1 below), ” said Dr Ian Boyd, Medibank Consulting GP.

The Medibank data which has been released for Heart Week also reveals that men also had higher hospital readmission rates than women in FY13/14 for a number of cardiovascular diseases including myocardial infarction (heart attack) and ischaemic heart disease – which is a major cause of mortality globally and the leading cause of death for Australian men and women[3] .

National Heart Foundation CEO, Mary Barry, said the Medibank data confirms that men still lag behind women when it comes to looking after their heart health.

“Every day 98 Australian men will have a heart attack; and tragically one in seven of these men will die,” Ms Barry said.

“It’s vital that men take better care of their heart health and learn to more effectively respond to the warning signs of a heart attack such as pain, heaviness or tightness in the chest and upper body, shortness of breath, dizziness, cold sweats and nausea.

“In particular, family and loved ones can play an important role in encouraging men to visit the doctor and get a heart health check-up before it’s too late.”

The Medibank data also shows a clear link between diabetes and heart disease and the rising number of hospital admissions for both men and women.

“Our data shows that 18% of our 41,971 Medibank members’ claims across both men and women who have been hospitalised and subsequently diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease in the last year have also been co-diagnosed with diabetes – and that percentage has been rising year on year for the past four years,” said Dr Boyd.

“What this data speaks to is the fact that we are facing an epidemic where cardiovascular diseases are becoming more prevalent and people are being diagnosed with co-morbidities including diabetes and depression as a result,  which is impacting quality of life, mortality and more broadly the health system.”

In FY13/14 alone Medibank paid $379 million for cardiovascular related hospital claims which is a 28.3% (or $84M) increase over the past five years (fig.2).

Ms Barry said a focus on preventing heart disease through increased physical activity is the focus of Heart Week 2015.

 “Physical inactivity contributes to almost one-quarter of the cardiovascular burden of disease in Australia (24%) and costs the health budget an estimated $1.5 billion each year,” she said.

“For these reasons the Heart Foundation is calling for a comprehensive, funded National Physical Activity Action Plan on behalf of all Australians.”

In order to try and tackle the prevalence of cardiovascular disease it’s imperative that people take small steps to better their health in order to prevent and reduce their risk of a heart attack by:

  • Be smoke free and avoid second hand smoke;
  • Enjoy healthy eating;
  • Be physically active;
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight;
  • Maintain your social and emotional health;
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol, as advised by your health professional; and
  • Take medicines, as prescribed by your doctor.

Footnotes:

[1] Disclaimer: when the word ‘men’s is used it refers to men who are Medibank members unless advised otherwise.

[2] Coronary Heart Diseases include the following diseases: subsequent myocardial Infarction, certain current complications following acute myocardial Infarction, other acute ischaemic heart diseases and chronic ischaemic heart disease.

[3] Heart Foundation, 2014, Australian heart disease statistics 2014, pg.19, http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/HeartStats_2014_web.pdf


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