Obesity epidemic creates ‘heart attack hotspot’ in Coffs
OBESITY levels across North Coast have helped the region to the dubious honour of being in the top five for heart attack hospitalisations.
The Coffs Harbour - Grafton area, which also takes in the LGAs of Bellingen, Nambucca and Richmond Valley, has a rate of heart attack hospital admissions of 18.1 per 10,000 people, around 25 per cent higher than the NSW state average.
Of serious concern are the risk factors fuelling the numbers, with the region sitting in the top ten for obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.
In the Coffs Harbour and Clarence Valley LGAs there are an estimated 38,000 obese people, representing 35 and 37 per cent of their populations respectively.
The data was compiled by the Heart Foundation on their interactive Australian Heart Maps tool that allows users to see the impact of heart disease deaths, hospitalisations and risk factors at a national, state and regional level.
Regional Australia fares significantly worse than its metropolitan counterparts with a direct correlation between the relative wealth of an area and its residents' health.
For instance, the region with the lowest rate of heart attack admissions is the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney on 8.8 admissions per 10,000 people, closely followed by the Inner West and North Sydney - Hornsby.
The worst region for admissions is the Riverina on 21.5 followed by Blacktown and Outer South-West Sydney.
Heart Foundation manager Anna Flynn said the figures revealed an "alarming inequality" and were "unacceptable".
"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, which remains the single leading cause of death in NSW," Ms Flynn said.
"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."
Heart disease is the single biggest killer of Australians and the more risk factors you have, the higher the risk of developing it.
Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors and making positive lifestyle changes to lower your risk, as most heart attacks and strokes can be prevented.