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Heart attack alert

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Heart attack alert

The Moira Shire region is among the state’s top hotspots for heart attack hospitalisations, new data shows

The Moira Shire together with the Greater Shepparton and Campaspe regions are leading Victoria for poor heart health, with alarming new Heart Foundation data revealing a stark health gap between regional and metro Victoria.

Data shows the rate of hospitalisations for heart attack and coronary heart disease is 70 per cent higher in the region than the state’s lowest region — Melbourne’s inner east.

That’s a rate of 17.4 per 10,000 people for heart attacks and 55.9 per 10,000 people for coronary heart disease.

This puts the region’s figures — which cover Greater Shepparton, Moira and Campaspe shires — close to 30 per cent higher than the state’s average for both hospitalisation rates.

It’s also a bleak story when it comes to obesity rates and high blood pressure.

The region ranks as the state’s top hotspot for both, with 39.8 per cent of the region living with obesity, and 23.7 per cent with high blood pressure.

These are two leading risk factors for heart disease, which is Victoria’s single leading cause of death.

In fact, the data revealed the top five regions with the highest rates across three out of four risk factors for heart disease are all found in regional areas of Victoria.

North-west Victoria is the state and nation’s top regional smoking hotspot, with its smoking rate of 22.2 per cent more than double that of Melbourne’s more affluent inner east region.

Victoria’s top three regions for obesity rates now also rank in the nation’s top 10 — Shepparton and Moira region (ranked fifth), Ballarat region (ranked seventh) and Latrobe-Gippsland (ranked 10th).

Of the top five regions with the lowest coronary heart disease deaths, all are in metro Melbourne.

Surprisingly, Melbourne headed the state’s rankings for the top three most physically active regions, and the bottom three least physically active regions.

Physical inactivity in Melbourne’s western region is close to 30 per cent higher than across the West Gate Bridge in the city’s inner east, which is the lowest.

Heart Foundation Victoria chief executive Kellie-Ann Jolly said when it came to heart health, a great divide exists between Victoria’s regional communities and their metro counterparts.

‘‘What these alarming figures tell us is that social and economic disadvantage matter for your heart,’’ Ms Jolly said.

‘‘Victorians who live in the state’s most disadvantaged areas are more likely to have significant risk factors, be hospitalised for heart attack or die from coronary heart disease.

‘‘We know better heart health is linked with secure work, safe affordable housing, good education, access to healthy food and appropriate health services.

‘‘The burden of heart disease weighs heavy on us all and so it’s time to act to close the metro-regional divide.’’

Ms Jolly urged governments, communities, industry and individuals to work together to address these inequalities.

‘‘The Heart Foundation is committed to seeing these numbers fall,’’ she said.

‘‘We will continue to work with key decision-makers to target areas for ‘best buy’ investments in preventative health, support and care services.’’

As Victorians finally approach a COVID-normal summer, Ms Jolly urged people to understand their personal risks for heart disease and take steps to address them.

‘‘We know people may have put off seeing a doctor this year, but it’s time now to make that appointment,’’ she said.

‘‘If you’re 45 years and over, or from age 30 if you’re Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, I urge you to talk to your GP about having a heart health check.’’

The Australian Heart Maps is an online tool that allows people to view data for heart disease deaths, hospitalisations and risk factors at a national, state, regional (SA4) and LGA level.

To find out more about heart health, visit

Region high on stroke list

The electorate of Farrer has been named Australia’s eighth most stroke affected electorate according to new data released by the Stroke Foundation.

According to the No Postcode Untouched, Stroke in Australia 2020 report, the electorate, which includes Mulwala, recorded 3736 people living with stroke and 221 stroke cases in the 2019-20 financial year.

The report ranked the Nicholls electorate — which includes Moira Shire — 11th in Australia for people living with high cholesterol — an estimated 21,024 people.

In the report, high cholesterol is defined as total cholesterol greater than or equal to 5.5 mmol/L.

The Stroke Foundation also released the economic impact of stroke, 2020 report, which found regional and rural Australians are 17 per cent more likely to experience a stroke than their metropolitan counterparts.

It also noted regional health services and their patients had limited access to “well established standard stroke treatments”, resulting in poorer health outcomes from stroke.

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