Residents in these regions are most likely to have heart disease

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Australians in some parts of the country are dying of heart disease at twice the rate in other areas.

That’s the alarming finding of the Heart Foundation, which released its Australian Heart Maps this morning.

The figures show that the nation’s leading killer is much more dangerous if you live in regional, rural and disadvantaged areas.

Heart Foundation Group CEO Adjunct Professor John Kelly says the maps highlight the gaps between affluent city communities and less advantaged rural areas.

“The results show there’s a great divide in heart health across some communities, and people in regional, rural and remote areas are faring worse than big city dwellers,” he said.

The Australian Heart Foundation says coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia, with heart disease representing one in five of all deaths. Cardiovascular disease accounts for one in four of all deaths in Australia. An estimated 1.2 million (5.6 per cent) Australian adults aged 18 years and over had one or more conditions related to heart or vascular disease, including stroke, in 2017–18.

“Key risk factors that contribute to heart conditions are largely preventable, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Additionally, most people don’t associate these key risk factors with their heart health,” Prof. Kelly said.

“Two in three Australian adults are overweight or obese, which are among the leading risk factors for heart disease.”

The Heart Maps data confirms that obesity, lack of exercise and high blood pressure are worse in regional Australia.

Sixteen of the 20 regions with the highest heart disease death rates are in regional and rural Australia and 17 of the 20 regions with the lowest death rates are in urban areas.

Risk factor hotspots are almost exclusively in the regions where obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and low levels of physical activity are a significant problem.

The Northern Territory has the highest rate of 90 heart disease deaths out of every 100,000 people, compared to 54 in the ACT.

All top 10 obesity hotspots are in regional or rural locations, with unhealthy weight rates in parts of regional NSW twice as high as metropolitan Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth.

Queensland and NSW contain 10 of the least active places, mainly in regional areas but led by Sydney’s southwest. The most active Australians are almost all in capital cities.

In the outback of the Northern Territory, heart disease death rates are two-and-a-half times higher than in affluent northern Sydney.

Prof. Kelly says the Heart Foundation is committed to tackling such glaring disparities in rates of heart disease and risk factors.

“These maps illustrate which parts of the country are in the greatest need of heart health services and investment, and we urge governments at all levels to step up measures to turn these statistics around. All Australians should be able to live a full and healthy life, no matter where they live.

“We also implore everyone to take action to protect their heart health – if you’re 45 and over, or from age 30 if you’re Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, talk to your GP about having a Heart Health Check.”

In 2017, when similar figures were released, the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) said the higher rates of heart disease in rural and remote communities were due to a dearth of health professionals, reduced health infrastructure and higher costs of healthcare delivery.

“Compared to metropolitan areas, people living in rural and remote locations tend to have lower incomes, and lower levels of education and employment.

“Rural and remote populations also have difficulty accessing affordable healthy food. This food insecurity is closely linked to obesity – a major heart disease risk factor.”

The NRHA called for “the urgent development of a bipartisan, cross-jurisdictional new National Rural Health Strategy”.

In 2017, research from the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research (MMIHR) concluded that people living in regional, rural or remote Australia were 90 per cent more likely to die from heart conditions caused by high blood pressure than people living in metropolitan areas.

Dr Yih-Kai Chan, lead author and research fellow at the institute, said Australia’s ageing population coupled with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle meant chronic heart disease would continue to be one of the leading causes of death, disability and very poor quality of life among adult Australians “in the foreseeable future”.

Are you aware of how to keep your heart healthy? Are we doing enough to bridge the great health divide in Australia?

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Written by Will Brodie


Total Comments: 10
  1. 0

    Perhaps we are dying quicker in the country because we don’t have to go “just down the road” to get access to cardiologists etc. We have our local GP’s to keep us going until a flight becomes available to take us to a capital city. Sometimes there are delays in getting flights as they are on other urgent cases. Some flights are 3 or 4 hours or maybe longer. Just a part we country people pay to keep Australia producing our exports.

    • 0

      The article identifies the major risk factors as obesity, high blood pressure and lack of exercise. Other factors are smoking and drinking.
      It is these, in association with the difficulty in accessing health care, that is the problem. It would suggest that lifestyle does play its part in which looking after oneself is important. A good start would be to stop smoking and drink sensibly and the need for cardiologists would be reduced.

  2. 0

    With the Chinese Communists taking hold of NT it’s no wonder it has a rate of 112.3

    • 0

      Apart from the Port of Darwin, what else are the Chinese up to in the NT, Arvo?

    • 0

      Gerry, China is the NT’s second-largest export partner, behind Japan, and both Labor and CLP NT governments have sent frequent political and business delegations to China to attract investment into the Territory.

      Over recent years, Chinese companies have committed millions of dollars on several significant projects in the NT, none of which are officially tied to the BRI, despite being aligned with its aims.

      In 2018, an $800 million gas pipeline linking Tennant Creek to Mt Isa was installed by Jemena, a company majority-owned by China’s State Grid.

      The same year, the NT Government provided $10 million in “cooperative marketing” to support Donghai Airlines’ flights between Shenzhen and Darwin, however the pandemic has forced its suspension.

      And in addition to the port, Landbridge has promised to build a $200 million luxury hotel on Darwin’s waterfront, with $17 million kicked in by the NT Government for public infrastructure and a skybridge, although the project has been beset by delays.


  3. 0

    The world’s biggest solar farm is being built which will provide Singapore with power and not us. China is heavily involved with this project as there is/was the possibility of another being built to help supply China.

    Singapore is a multiracial and multicultural country with ethnic Chinese (76.2% of the citizen population), Malays (15.0%), and ethnic Indians (7.4%). Chinese Singaporeans make up the majority of the population. There are also Eurasians in Singapore. The Malays are recognised as the indigenous community.

    Demographics of Singapore – Wikipedia

  4. 0

    Was diagnosed of Coronary Heart Disease in 2018. I was extremely short of breath. My doctor started me on  lasix and digoxin, the medications helped but not very much. My primary care doctor referred me to Herbal HealthPoint, i immediately started on their CH-D FORMULA. I had a total decline in major symptoms including angina, sob, fatigue and others. Go to ww w. herbalhealthpoint. c o.m…

  5. 0

    Was diagnosed of Coronary Heart Disease in 2018. I was extremely short of breath. My doctor started me on  lasix and digoxin, the medications helped but not very much. My primary care doctor referred me to Herbal HealthPoint, i immediately started on their CH-D FORMULA. I had a total decline in major symptoms including angina, sob, fatigue and others. Go to ww w. herbalhealthpoint. c o.m…

  6. 0

    Why can’t I see any reference to Victoria on this graph????

  7. 0

    Nothing about the top Speciallists are in capital cities and how we often get less qualified or cultural understanding in the country.



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