THE rate of coronary heart disease death in the Warrnambool and south-west region is 20 per cent higher than the state average.
New data released from Heart Foundation Victoria showed the rate of coronary heart disease (CHD) deaths in the region was 73 per 100,000 people and the rate of heart attack hospitalisations in Warrnambool and the south-west 14 per 10,000 people which is six per cent higher than the state average.
According to the data, the rate of CHD hospitalisations in the region was 39 per 10,000, which is nine per cent lower than the state average.
The research found 20.5 per cent of people living in Warrnambool and the south-west smoke, which was 32 per cent higher than the state average.
Lifestyle factors including smoking, an unhealthy diet, being inactive, an unhealthy weight, alcohol consumption can increase the risk of heart disease and according to the data in Corangamite Shire 19.4 per cent of adults smoke, 75.2 per cent don't get enough exercise and 33.3 per cent were obese.
In Moyne Shire 76.3 per cent of adults don't get enough exercise, 34.3 per cent were obese and 18.2 per cent smoked. In Glenelg Shire 73.5 per cent of adults don't get enough exercise, 22.6 per cent smoke and 32.5 per cent were obese.
In the Southern Grampians Shire 71.7 per cent of adults don't exercise enough, 29.3 per cent were obese and 36.9 per cent had high cholesterol.
Other regions with high rates of CHD deaths included the North West region, Bendigo, Latrobe and Gippsland and Shepparton. The five areas with the lowest rates of CHD deaths were all in metropolitan Melbourne.
Heart Foundation Victoria chief executive officer Kellie-Ann Jolly said there was a great divide between regional Victorian communities and their metro counterparts when it came to heart health. "What these alarming figures tell us is that social and economic disadvantage matter for your heart," she 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."
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Ms Jolly called on government, communities, industry and individuals to work together to address the inequalities between metro and regional and rural people. "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." Ms Jolly urged people 45 and over and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders over 30 to see their doctor and have a heath health check.
The Heart Foundation has released interactive maps which allows people to see data for heart disease deaths and risk factors. To see the maps visit heartfoundation.
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