Cardiovascular medicines saving lives: AIHW

A report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare demonstrates the significant impact of medicines in reducing cardiovascular death rates in Australia.

Cardiovascular disease mortality: trends in different ages shows that death rates from cardiovascular disease have fallen since 1987, with the greatest decline in older people.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said the report underscores the enormous benefit that cardiovascular medicines have been delivering to ordinary Australian patients over the past 25 years.

“One of the key reasons that Australians are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease today compared with 1987 is the range of cardiovascular medicines that the pharmaceutical industry has bought to market over that time”, Dr Shaw said.

“This is a classic example of how new technologies developed by the pharmaceutical industry have resulted in people living longer, healthier lives.

“You have a far greater chance of surviving cardiovascular disease today than you did 25 years ago. That is due in part to the investment the pharmaceutical industry has made in cardiovascular medicines and in part to the preparedness of successive governments to invest in such medicines”.

The AIHW itself identified improvement in the availability and use of medicines as one of the reasons for lower death rates.

“Within Australia, emergency intervention after a heart attack has become more effective, along with long-term treatment of such patients, including the increased use of particular medicines such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, statins, thrombolytics and antiplatelet agents,” the report says.

“More generally, the increased use and effectiveness of medicines to lower blood pressure, and a dramatic increase in the use of cholesterol-lowering medicines among the population at risk will have also played a part in reducing the likelihood of heart attacks.

“For stroke, it is likely that the increased use of blood pressure-lowering medicines, antiplatelet agents (such as aspirin) and anticoagulant therapy (warfarin) has contributed to the decline in death rates.”


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