New figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness (AIHW) this week (Wednesday, August 12, 2015) reveal 50 per cent of Aussies are living with at least one chronic disease, while 20 per cent of us are battling two or more chronic diseases. Among people aged 45 and older, this figure doubles to 40 per cent.

The AIHW report reflected on eight chronic diseases, including arthritis, asthma, back problems, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and mental health conditions.

According to the report, people under 45 years of age who experienced co-morbidities, often experienced a mental health condition combined with asthma. Among those aged 45 and older, the chronic diseases that occur together most commonly include cardiovascular disease and arthritis, afflicting 16 per cent of the population, with arthritis and back problems affecting 10 per cent of Australians.

Furthermore, the report cited a combination of cardiovascular disease and back problems plaguing eight per cent of the Australian population.

“Sometimes these diseases occur together simply by chance. But often it’s because there are some associations between them, such as shared risk factors,” said AIHW spokesperson, Louise York, as quoted by Cirrus Media publication, 6 Minutes, on August 12, 2015.

“Older people are more vulnerable to developing many diseases, and Australians’ increasing life expectancy means a greater chance for multiple conditions to arise,” Ms York said.

On August 12, 2015, News Limited quoted the Federal Health Minister, The Hon. Sussan Ley MP, stating the AIHW data highlights our need to reform primary health care, and that the AIWH report figures support the establishment of the Primary Health Care Advisory Group, which is currently travelling throughout Australia to discuss primary health reform.

“As our population ages, we know that the prevention and treatment of chronic disease is an increasing challenge for the health system and Australians generally,” said Minister Ley.

To learn more about the AIHW report, click here.