High cholesterol costs Australia $4 billion

| December 9, 2018
High cholesterol placed an estimated $4 billion burden on the Australian economy in 2017-18, with more than one in three adult Australians, or 7.1 million people, estimated to be living with high cholesterol, according to a new Heart Foundation report.

Most of this cost is due to heart disease and ischaemic stroke, for which high cholesterol is a key risk factor. In fact, in Australia more than half of the $7.3 billion cost of heart disease, and twelve per cent of the $1.3 billion cost of ischaemic stroke, can be attributed to high cholesterol.

High cholesterol also places a burden on individuals. In 2017-18 it was estimated that Australians spent close to $100 million out-of-pocket on lipid lowering medications.

Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly AM, said: “Despite these figures, the lack of symptoms associated with high cholesterol mean that most Australians with the condition are not receiving the recommended treatment.

“This puts them at a greater risk of heart attack and stroke, and of developing life-threatening diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Thousands of heart attacks and strokes could be averted if people aged 45-74 visited their GP for a heart health check and those with high cholesterol were properly treated and managed.”

The Heart Foundation recommends establishing a national target for heart health checks, with the aim of having 90 per cent or more of the eligible population assessed for cardiovascular risk within five years.

The report, ‘Economic Burden of Hypercholesterolaemia’ is the third in a series quantifying the costs of heart disease and risk factors. The previous reports were ‘Economic Cost of Acute Coronary Syndrome in Australia: The Cost to Individuals and Their Families’ and ‘Economic Cost of Acute Coronary Syndrome in Australia: The Cost to Governments’.