Heart Disease Higher in Regional, Rural, Remote Areas

December 2, 2020 Updated: December 2, 2020

New figures reveal a city-country health divide persists, with over 50 percent more likely to die of heart disease in rural areas than those living in capital cities.

Disadvantaged people in rural areas are also nearly twice as likely to be hospitalised for a heart attack as those from urban areas, according to new interactive maps released by the Heart Foundation on Dec. 1.

Australian Heart Maps is an online tool that allows users to compare heart health indicators such as deaths, hospitalisations, and risk factors across Australia.

Queensland, the sunshine state, dominates Australia’s top ten least physically active regions, and the locations with some the country’s lowest exercise rates are also all in regional Queensland.

​Logan-Beaudesert is Queensland’s least active region, where more than three in four residents are not moving enough to be healthy. The Heart Foundation recommends thirty minutes of mild exercises, such as walking, each day.

Following close second nationally was New South Wales with Sydney’s southwest being Australia second less active location.

Heart Foundation’s NSW/ACT Heart Health Manager, Anna Flynn said heart disease remains the single leading cause of death in NSW.

“If you live in the state’s remote south, north or west, or in a disadvantaged part of Sydney, you have a much higher chance of heart disease,” Flynn said in a statement.

“This is unacceptable, and the Heart Foundation will continue its work to reduce heart disease. We also urge governments at all levels to take action to curb the toll – especially in regional, rural and disadvantaged areas, where our Heart Maps show the burden of heart disease is at its highest,” Flynn said.

Heart Foundation CEO John Kelly has implored everyone to take action on 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,” Kelly said.

During the CCP virus pandemic, the Foundation calculated that over 500,000 individuals skipped potentially life-saving check-ups.

Roughly one-in-five people at highest risk said they were unlikely to attend future appointments with their GP citing concerns about COVID-19.

Bill Stavreski, the general manager of the Heart Foundation, urged Australians not to let the “fear factor” of COVID-19 stop their regular check-ups, as there are options to do this safely via telehealth or in person.

“Heart disease doesn’t stop during a pandemic,” Stavreski said.