ADEQUATE exercise and a well-rounded diet are universally accepted as crucial for the human heart but cardiac experts say foolhardy behaviour is costing lives in regional Victoria.
Medical specialists gathered at Warrnambool Base Hospital yesterday for the south-west’s Regional Cardiac Forum which included speeches from the state’s leading health administrators.
Victorian Cardiac Clinical Network medical chief Richard Harper said many rural patients risked their lives by driving themselves to hospital only minutes after experiencing a heart attack.
He said while it was understandable that patients wanted to receive medical treatment as quickly as possible, driving to hospital under acute physical strain heightened the risk of death.
“It is a problem we see repeated throughout the state where some people drive long distances to hospital, even though they’re under extreme duress and agony,” he said.
“When people are fearing for their lives, the immediate reaction is to drive yourself to hospital but doing so is a highly risky thing to do.”
Professor Harper said while south-west Victoria had above-average rates of cardio-vascular disease, the trend was starting to soften after several years of hovering close to the top of the heart attack chart.
“We’ve seen some evidence that (heart attack) rates are beginning to decline and that’s due to a number of factors, increased awareness being one,” he said. “Improved services is also a factor.”
Victorian Cardiac Clinical Network project officer Eileen Thompson said yesterday’s conference included expert speakers such as Ambulance Victoria pre-hospital thrombolysis project manager Elizabeth Sinclair and medical practitioners Susan Thomas and Thomas Ashwell.