7.7 Diseases of the Circulatory System

There is a high mortality rate in Maltese males from diseases involving the circulatory system compared to S. European (SMRS: Maltese 89, Italian 53, Greek 65, Yugoslav 77), but not compared to the average Australian -born. In females an SMR of 122 is much higher than that found in Greeks (53), Italians(65), and S. Europeans in general (66), as well as being significantly higher than the Australian-born.

These data confirm the findings of Martin et al (1984) that there is a particularly high mortality from cerebro-vascular disease amongst the Maltese. In their study they state that "the mortality from ischaemic heart disease in Maltese-born men and women in Victoria were higher than those of the total population of Victoria at nearly all age groups from the age of 35 years." Males tend to be affected more frequently than females at all ages.

The reasons for this high mortality rate are difficult to disentangle. It is probably not related to sample selection or to better living conditions, because it reflects experience found in Malta. A recent study iu Malta involving persons aged 25 - 64 years of age has shown that th prevalence of hypertension was 26% (Cacciottolo 1988/89). In a small study of Maltese-born pregnant women in Australia, the prevalence hypertension was 10%, much higher than most other ethnic groups the Australian born population (Cauchi,1986). It is possible that t genetic tendency to diabetes with its known marked effects on vasculature, combined with a rich carbohydrate diet and, in males, a high incidence of smoking, make for a deadly triad that could explain the findings described.

Source: Maurice N. Cauchi - Maltese Migrants in Australia, Malta 1990

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