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More Australians to get heart illnesses

More Australians to get heart illnesses
Photo: More Australians to get heart illnesses
A heart-related illness is predicted to reach "epidemic proportions" in Australia by 2034, according to medical experts.

Australians need to watch their weight and be aware of their blood pressure if they want to avoid atrial fibrillation (AF), a heart condition that can lead to stroke, experts say.

New research predicts AF or heart rhythm disorder will swell to "epidemic proportions" in the coming decades in Australia.

Medical experts say an ageing population, high blood pressure and obesity are the main drivers of the condition.

"We are reaching a perfect storm of risk factors," said study co-author Simon Stewart of the Australian Catholic University.

It's estimated there are currently more than 328,000 cases of atrial fibrillation among people aged over 55.

This figure is projected to double by 2034.

"We've already seen a rise in atrial fibrillation-related hospitalisations," said Professor Stewart, from the University's Mary MacKillop Institute of Health Research in Melbourne.

"So we can already see a very profound burden on the Australian population and health care system, and this is only going to get worse because we're getting older.

"We need to start making some inroads with things like high blood pressure and weight levels, we can't afford not to."

Men will be more affected with this potentially fatal cardiac condition than women, with a 2034 prevalence of 7.2 per cent predicted versus 5.6 per cent in women.

The greatest projected regional increase in prevalence is expected to be in Queensland, most likely due to the ageing of an older resident population, Prof Stewart said.

The study is published in the Medical Journal of Australia.


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