The 6 top chronic health issues affecting Australians

10 March 2017
Hypertension the most common chronic illness among Australians

Hypertension (high blood pressure), osteoarthritis, hyperlipidaemia (high cholesterol), depression, anxiety, and asthma are the six most common chronic health conditions affecting Australians, new research reveals. 

Published today in PLOS1, the study by University of Sydney scholars reports that between 2012 and 2016, 40 per cent of Australians had at least one chronic health problem and a quarter had two or more chronic conditions.

This largest ever national study of chronic health conditions involved a survey of 1,449 General Practitioners who recorded the diagnosed chronic conditions of 43,501 patients. After adjusting for population, the study estimates that the prevalence of these chronic health problems as follows:

Percentage of Australians with a chronic health problem
Chronic health problems Population prevalence (per cent)
Hypertension (High blood pressure) 12.4
Osteoarthritis 9.5
Hyperlipidaemia (High cholesterol) 8.2
Depression 8.0
Anxiety 5.8
Asthma 5.2

“These results highlight the increasing complexity of patients in our healthcare system,” said the study’s lead author, Christopher Harrison at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.

“Our system is very good at managing a patient with a single chronic condition but people with multiple chronic health issues can face challenges in the healthcare system.

“These people often need to see many specialists who each focus on a single condition. This is where GPs plays a vital role as generalists who care for the whole patient, not just an individual condition.

“Australia needs to strengthen general practice if it wants to continue having one of the best healthcare systems in the world.”

Elliott Richardson

Assistant Media Advisor (Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy)