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Shepparton region tops state for heart hotspots
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Shepparton region tops state for heart hotspots

Media Release - 1 December 2020

Victoria’s Shepparton region tops the state for heart health hotspots, new Heart Foundation data revealed today.

Australian Heart Maps online data show the rate of hospitalisations for heart attack (17.4 per 10,000 people) and coronary heart disease (55.9 per 10,000 people) in the Shepparton region is around 70 per cent higher than the state’s lowest region – Melbourne’s inner east.

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.

Similarly, Shepparton region ranks as the state’s top hotspot for obesity rates (39.8 per cent) and high blood pressure (23.7 per cent). These are two leading risk factors for heart disease, which is  Victoria’s single leading cause of death.  

In fact, the data shows 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.

Lighting up as the state and nation’s top regional smoking hotspot, North West Victoria’s smoking rate of 22.2 per cent is 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 ten - Shepparton region (rank 5), Ballarat region (rank 7), and Latrobe-Gippsland (rank 10).

The Ballarat region, which includes the Maryborough, Beauford, Daylesford and Ballan areas, sees significant obesity rates of 38.7 per cent, while in the state’s east, the Latrobe-Gippsland region is slightly lower at 38.2 per cent.

Ranking third in the state across in three key risk factors for heart disease, the vast Latrobe-Gippsland region has rates of obesity at 38.2 per cent, high blood pressure at 23.5 per cent and smoking at 20.3 per cent.

Overall, Warrnambool South West (73.9 per 100,000 people) and North West Victoria (73.7 per 100,000 people) rank as the top two Victorian regions for coronary heart disease deaths. Their death rate is 20 per cent higher than the state’s average of 61.5.

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

Perhaps 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 Westgate Bridge in the city’s inner east, which is the lowest.

Heart Foundation CEO Victoria, Kellie-Ann Jolly, said when it comes 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.

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. We need Government, communities, industry and individuals working together to address these inequalities.

“The Heart Foundation is committed to seeing these numbers fall. 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. 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. 

Media enquiries

Debora McInnes, Senior Media Advisor
M: 0423 827 697 E: debora.mcinnes@heartfoundation.org.au

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