Are You In A High Risk Area For Cardiovascular Disease?

Co-author: Regina Collins
According to a geographical snapshot of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke) released by the Heart Foundation, Aussies living outside capital cities are at greater risk (26%) of the nation’s biggest killer.

What areas are at the highest risk of heart disease?

When it comes to specific areas, the top 20 regions in Australia in order of the prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevalence are:

Region State % of people with CVD
Southern Highlands & Shoalhaven NSW 35.7%
Ballarat VIC 32.3%
Weston Creek ACT 32.2%
Central Coast NSW 31.1%
Hunter Valley (excl. Newcastle) NSW 30.4%
Launceston & North East TAS 29.9%
Sydney – Outer West & Blue Mountains NSW 29.8%
Richmond-Tweed NSW 29.6%
South Australia – South East SA 29.2%
South Canberra ACT 28.1%
Hobart TAS 27.6%
Cairns QLD 27.5%

No surprises

It comes as no surprise that this is the case, with studies showing fewer health services available in regional areas, and a number of ‘ill-health hotspots’ across Queensland and Victoria.

Heart Foundation’s National CEO, Mary Barry said there are many reasons why people living outside major cities have a higher chance of developing heart disease.

“We know people living in regional areas have a greater risk of heart disease because they are more likely to be physically inactive, daily smokers, and overweight or obese, than those living in major cities,” Ms Barry said.

Stephen Duckett, Director of the Grattan Institute Health Program, says the problem of high-risk areas can only be addressed if governments come up with targeted solutions for individual places.

“Australia is not a uniform country, and a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Local, tailored policy responses are required,” Dr Duckett says.

Tips on maintaining a healthy heart

You can’t always prevent cardiovascular disease, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle will certainly reduce your risk. Some of these factors include diet, exercise, and social interaction.

Interestingly, when it comes to heart attacks specifically, there is some evidence that getting the flu shot seems to almost halve the risk of heart attacks in middle-aged people with narrowed arteries (Heart, 2013). Something to consider as we approach this year’s flu season!

For more information about how to maintain a healthy heart, click here.

The Heart Foundation wants to help

If you want more information, or have any concerns about your cardiovascular health, the Heart Foundation website has some excellent resources such as healthy, delicious and ‘heart-smart’ recipes. As well as a number of fundraisers including Jump Rope for Heart and social walking groups.


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