Cardiometabolic risk and disease in Indigenous Australians: the heart of the heart study

Alex Brown, Melinda Carrington, Michele McGrady, Geraldine Lee, Chris Zeitz, Henry Krum, Kevin Rowley, Simon Stewart

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    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives This study assessed the burden and determinants of cardiovascular and metabolic risk in a community sample of high risk Indigenous Australians. Background Indigenous Australians are over-represented in the most disadvantaged strata of Australian society. The role of psychosocial and socioeconomic factors in patterning cardiometabolic disease in this population is unclear. Methods The Heart of the Heart Study was a cross sectional study of 436 Aboriginal adults from remote, urban and peri-urban communities around Alice Springs (Northern Territory, Australia). Participants underwent detailed assessments of socio-demographic, psychosocial, cardiovascular and metabolic status. Results Individuals with depression were twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease (OR 2.03; 1.07-3.88; p < 0.05). Chronic kidney disease (39.7%, 37.2% and 18.2%) and diabetes (28.4%, 34.0% and 19.2%) were more common in peri-urban and remote compared to urban communities. Cardiovascular disease did not vary across locations (p = 0.069), but coronary artery disease did (p = 0.035 for trend). Unemployed individuals were more likely to have cardiovascular disease (OR 2.32; 1.33-4.06; p < 0.001). Socioeconomic gradients in coronary artery disease, all cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as measured by income, operated differentially across locations (p for location/socioeconomic status interactions 0.002; 0.01 and 0.04 respectively). Conclusion Participants had high rates of pre-existing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Cardiovascular risk in these communities was associated with psychosocial factors and socioeconomic indicators. However, gradients operated differentially across location. These data provide a strong foundation for better understanding key drivers of increased levels of cardiovascular and other common forms of non-communicable disease in Indigenous people.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)377-383
    Number of pages7
    JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2014


    • Cardiometabolic
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Depression
    • Indigenous
    • Non-communicable disease
    • Socioeconomic factors


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