Cardiometabolic risk and disease in Indigenous Australians: The heart of the heart study Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.


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

publication date

  • 2014