Regional residents 90 per cent more likely to die from heart disease

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A new study has revealed that people who live in regional, remote or rural regions are 90 per cent more likely to die from heart conditions caused by high blood pressure than people living in or near major cities.

The Heart of Inequality report conducted by the Mary Mackillop Institute for Health Research at Australian Catholic University (ACU) found that socio-economic status, location and access to health services create disparities in cardiovascular disease (CVD) health outcomes.

The report also found that hospital admissions for instances of chronic heart disease are increasing, with an estimated 800,000 admitted last year for coronary artery disease, 170,000 with heart failure and 330,000 for atrial fibrillation.

It also revealed that Indigenous Australians in some areas will suffer heart failure, on average, 20 years earlier than the general population.

And any Australians who survive a cardiac event will inevitably develop a chronic, and costly, form of heart disease that will stick with them for life.

Mainly, The Heart of Inequality report highlighted the disproportionate instances and outcomes of heart disease across Australia and the need to find a solution.

“Indigenous Australians and people living in regional and rural Australia experience greater heart disease risk and poorer outcomes in the context of often limited health care resources,” said lead author Dr Yih-Kai Chan.

“In a geographically sparse continent, these gaps pose significant challenges for matching health services to individual needs to improve persistently poor health outcomes associated with chronic heart disease.

“To make matters worse, our ageing population coupled with an evolving sedentary lifestyle means chronic heart disease will continue to be one of the leading causes of death, disability and very poor quality of life among adult Australians in the foreseeable future.”

Researchers recommend the establishment of an advisory group to help manage these growing disparities and to implement a practitioner program for the prevention and management of heart disease.

In our opinion, report findings such as these highlight the need for older Australians to stay nearer to metropolitan areas and, in turn, decent health facilities.

However, Australia’s metropolitan housing affordability issues make staying near the city difficult. And government incentives often encourage (nay, push) retirees, pensioners and lower to middle income earning households further out of town and into areas where there are poor health services.

The Government needs to step in and change some laws, so developers and foreign investors don’t have such an advantage over young families and those looking to downsize. If metropolitan housing is ever to be affordable, this needs action to be high on the agenda.

Although, improving regional and rural health infrastructure also needs to be a priority, because no matter how much we’d all like to live near the city, our expanding population makes this an impossibility.

Do you live in a remote, rural or regional area? What is your experience with health services in these areas? What can be done to keep Australians both young and old closer to decent health facilities?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

12 Comments

Total Comments: 12
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    I moved to the east coast of Tasmania some years ago, I never really thought of the future medical requirements I might have, and now? ; well it’s a case of hope over reality; we rely on voluntary transport and drivers to get to medical services. It’s a case of what we don’t have out here. Healthwise it’s been a big mistake to leave a large city and move to a relatively remote area.

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      Hi Neil, We live in the country, but it’s only 40 minutes to the Gold Coast. But, I guess getting to far inland could be a problem. Cheers, Barb

  2. 0
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    We lived in Tugun and the constant noise from two highways, planes overhead and loud parties nearby, had me stressed to the max. Since moving inland, 40 minutes from the Gold Coast, I’m happy, relaxed and actually getting to know people. Small country towns are awesome. And so is being close to the Gold Coast.

  3. 0
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    I listened to this report on the ABC yesterday.
    I have several questions that always seem to go unanswered when it comes to heart statistics. -We all die. Most of us would like to die peacefully in our sleep as our heart takes one last beat. Is that a statistic that bumps up the heart failure stats?
    What do they determine as premature death?
    When they say there are more heart related deaths in the country than the city is that because the vast majority of old people retire to the country?
    Yes, I acknowledge the indigenous people do not fair well on our diet. I also know that low socio-economic families are eating garbage. However to link heart disease with the country living is not that straight forward.
    Statistically though, it indicates that the country areas need more hospitals and doctors and for the younger population – education.

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      You would think that the opposite should be true. We think of less pollution outside of cities, less noise and stress, less miles for food to travel, more space and better soil to grow your own healthy fruit and vegetables.
      Even low income families do not have to eat nutritionally depleted garbage, it just needs creative recipes using healthy food.

    • 0
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      Unfortunately Triss low socio-economic areas are the ones with the highest obesity rates due to poor diet.

  4. 0
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    How about more be spent on prevention than yet another bandaid for people who don’t help themselves?

    And yes regional and rural services need improvement. So how about requiring that ALL medical practitioners do ‘time in these areas BEFORE they get their city based medicare number? Say 10 years! They could forgo their lates that long (or help establish a coffee shop locally). It is unrealistic to expect that every small town and village can have its own hospital with a full suite of services, but surely there could be more ‘Packer wackers’ for example and other relatively inexpensive equipment and clinics provided.

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      I agree with you KSS. For a time I live in a remote region We had 5 GPS then it whittled down to 4 then 3 then 2 then 1 for the entire township Regional towns still have hospitals aged care facility and farming families that require medical help. Country towns deserve improvement with health facilities,

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      I agree with you, KSS, young, starting doctors should have to have a period of learning time in a rural area. That goes for dentists as well.

  5. 0
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    Many people choose to move to country where it is most peaceful and less stressful than living in the city. Healthier too. How about health facilities being provided for country people? Planners need to provide for people who want to finish off their retirement years in country areas .

  6. 0
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    To my mind, much of heart disease is genetic. Both my parents died from cardio vascular event and were in their mid sixties at the time. I have had just about every problem known to man having my first stent inserted when age 55. From there on it has been a triple A, constant blood pressure medication and now the latest is an aortic valve problem which needs repair. I am now 81 years of age and put my longevity down to excellent medical knowledge and advanced techniques and the fact that I monitor any symptoms which may occur. I must say that the Northern Rivers Area of NSW, our home, is very well equipped with medical assistance both with GPs and Specialists as well as Hospital Accommodation.

  7. 0
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    Add to my previous post there is also a pacemaker which was installed some years at a Gold Coast hospital, less than an hour from home.


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