13 October 2015

Health report reveals stroke of improvement

Western Australians are taking important measures that are known to reduce the risk of stroke.

The Health and Wellbeing of Adults in Western Australia 2014, Overview and Trends report reveals a continuing decline in rates of adult smoking and shows that almost two thirds of the State’s adults are meeting recommended levels of physical activity.

Western Australia’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Tarun Weeramanthri welcomed the report’s findings saying smoking and physical inactivity were both big risk factors for stroke so it was good to see improvements in these areas.

Strokes occur when the supply of blood to the brain is interrupted. They are a leading cause of death and disability among Australian adults.

Dr Weeramanthri said that with more than 3000 hospitalisations in Western Australia due to stroke in 2014 he was also heartened to learn that the latest report showed 85 per cent of Western Australians had had their blood pressure taken within the previous 12 months.

“Even more encouraging is that while 23 per cent reported having had high blood pressure at some point in their life only 16 per cent were currently outside the healthy range,” Dr Weeramanthri said.

“Similarly, 53 per cent of respondents had had their blood cholesterol levels checked within the previous 12 months.

“This shows Western Australians are making changes to improve their health.”

Despite the gains, Dr Weeramanthri said the report highlighted some concerning findings.

“Alcohol consumption continues to be a problem in our community with 28 per cent of adults exceeding the Australian Alcohol Guidelines recommendation of no more than two standard alcoholic drinks per day,” he said.

“The increasing weight of Western Australians was a further problem, with 66.4 per cent of adults being classified as overweight or obese.

“These findings show us that we have some real work to do if we are to lead healthy and fulfilling lives into old age.”

Health and Wellbeing of Adults in Western Australia 2015 reports on the findings of the 2014 Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System, a continuous data collection initiated in 2002 to monitor the health status of the WA population.

Its findings are taken from computer-assisted telephone interviews of 6,200 adults conducted between January and December.

The report also found:

  • Almost 9 out of 10 adults considered their health to be as good as, if not better, than it had been the previous year (87.5%).
  • In 2014, just over 1 in 5 respondents (22.4%) reported having an injury in the previous 12 months that required treatment by a health care professional.
  • In 2014, persons aged 65 years and over were significantly more likely to report being the primary carer of a family member with a disability or long-term illness compared with persons aged 16–44 years (74.5% compared with 51.5%).

Read the full report on the population surveys web page.

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