Middle age is when the accumulated interactions of genetic predisposition, environment and lifestyle commonly start to impact on health. Ischaemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, for example, often become symptomatic in these years. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 these two conditions will be among the five leading causes of disease burden globally. Ischaemic heart disease is already the leading cause of disability in Australia and is the most common cause of death among Indigenous Australians.
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