Australian Heart Maps reveal heart disease hotspots

The Heart Foundation’s new Australian Heart Maps reveal the heart disease hotspots.

Australian Heart Maps reveal heart disease hotspots

Earlier this week, the Heart Foundation released its new feature Australian Heart Maps online, which uses heart-related hospital admission data to determine hotspots for heart disease throughout Australia.

The data revealed a disturbing gap between the health of city dwellers compared with residents in regional Australia, showing that the further a person lives from a major city the greater the rate of heart-related hospitalisations. Furthermore, the data also revealed a correlation between access to services – especially for those considered disadvantaged – and the rates of heart-related hospital admissions.

National Heart Foundation chief executive officer, Adjunct Professor John Kelly, believes the map will serve as a valuable tool for creating strategy, planning services and targeting prevention initiatives in areas of greatest need.

“Those regions that rate in the top hotspot areas are regions where a large proportion of residents are of significant disadvantage. This disadvantage includes a person’s access to education, employment, housing, transport, affordable healthy food and social support,” Adj Prof Kelly said. “This contrasts to areas with the lowest rates – particularly the northern suburbs of Sydney, where there is little disadvantage [in] the community.

“There is a five-fold difference of hospital admissions between Northern Territory Outback and the region with the lowest admission rates, North Sydney [and] Hornsby, which highlights the association between remoteness, disadvantage and our heart health,” he said.

The worst

 

Region

State

Heart admissions per 10,000 people

1     

Northern Territory - Outback

NT

161

2     

Queensland - Outback

QLD

100.9

3     

Darwin

NT

79

4     

Ipswich

QLD

77.4

5     

Wide Bay

QLD

75.6

The best

1     

Sydney - North Sydney & Hornsby

NSW

31.3

2     

Sydney - Northern Beaches

NSW

32.9

3     

Sydney - Eastern Suburbs

NSW

33.1

4     

Sydney - Ryde

NSW

34.4

5     

Sydney - Baulkham Hills & Hawkesbury

NSW

35.7


Read more at www.themercury.com.au
Read more at www.heartfoundation.org.au

Opinion: Risk factors must be reduced        

The statistics released this week by the Heart Foundation are damning. You are nearly twice as likely to be hospitalised for a heart event if you live in a very remote area, in comparison to someone that lives in a major city.

If we were able to reduce the outer regional areas from an average of 92.5 heart admissions per 10,000 people down to the city average of 47.1, we would have 3400 fewer hospital admissions per year and 1700 fewer heart attacks.

It’s clear that more needs to be done to improve health services in regional areas, but improving the standard of living and educating those most at risk are how we can make the biggest inroads to reducing regional Australia’s risk factors.

“Along with higher rates of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity, remote Australia experiences higher levels of disadvantage, has poorer access to health services and … access to affordable healthy food, access to education and secure employment,” Adj Prof Kelly said.

Australia’s commitment to funding public healthcare is a core benefit of our great country. More than $18 billion is already budgeted for public hospitals through 2017–18 and, along with our population, this figure will grow in coming years.

Let’s hope that those affected most by heart disease are willing to accept the help offered through future programs, so that we can lower the risk of heart disease for every Australian.

What do you think? Should we be putting money into programs throughout regional areas to decrease the rate of heart-related hospital admissions? Or should that money be focused towards public hospitals across Australia?

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Rod63
    18th Aug 2016
    11:10am
    To answer your question - it is an absolute no-brainer. Putting money into preventative programmes are ALWAYS better than having to deal with illnesses that can be reduced.
    Hasbeen
    18th Aug 2016
    12:23pm
    Rubbish Rod, putting money into preventative programs in my experience in my experience results in lots of money wasted on young graduates dithering around chattering, doing nothing useful, & the useful professionals off at conferences when they are needed at the coalface. Example a friend who after being stabilised at a small regional hospital after his heart attack, spent 5 days at a large city hospital without seeing a cardiologist. They were all at a conference.

    Obviously lifestyle, & most often chosen lifestyle has a huge effect on hospital admissions, but without the preamble that chart of admissions could easily be interoperated as a result of over servicing in the bush. Of course we all know that is not the case, but the whole thing is far too nebulous to be of much, if any use. It does tell us that heart problems are whisked off to hospital in the bush. This indicates services could be a lot worse.

    A chart showing deaths per 10,000 people would be much more informative of the quality & accessibility of cardiac services in & out of major city centres. Perhaps it is not politically correct to publish such information, or perhaps it is just too damaging to governments & their health services.
    Rod63
    18th Aug 2016
    1:08pm
    The question asked was, "Should we be putting money into programs throughout regional areas to decrease the rate of heart-related hospital admissions?" I still maintain that this is essential. You have raised other issues eg your comment about cardiologists not being available at a large city hospital.

    I would much rather be proactive in reducing my chances of having a heart attack (acknowledging there are no guarantees) than make poor life-style choices knowing my local hospital is will take care of it when I need them.
    Scrivener
    18th Aug 2016
    1:35pm
    seriously Hasbeen, it might be a good idea to get handle on how the system actually works before making ill-informed claims such as, "Example a friend who after being stabilised at a small regional hospital after his heart attack, spent 5 days at a large city hospital without seeing a cardiologist. They were all at a conference."

    1. The patient had been stabilised.
    2. If the patient had needed an Angioplasty or other procedure then it would have been done.
    3. There is never - repeat NEVER - a time when all cardiologists (or other Procedural Specialists) go off to conferences together at ANY hospital.
    4. It is mandatory for all doctors to fulfil their obligations for continued learning and continuing education. They HAVE to go to conferences, it is part of keeping their practice license.

    Oh! and I'm sure when you said 'interoperated' you actually meant interpreted.

    If you want to be seen as credible then at least get some of your facts right and don't write comments designed to malign people and infer negligence. If you claim negligence then at least offer some facts and grounds that will enable the system to be investigated, recalibrated and fixed.
    Hasbeen
    19th Aug 2016
    8:49pm
    I'm afraid you don't know it all do you Scrivener. He went home without seeing a cardiologist. 3 months later they called him down to PA & finally conducted an Angioplasty, & sent him home again. He finally got a stent 5 months after his heart attack. I know all this as I was supporting him, & driving him around when down here.

    I personally have seen the lack of communication & coordination in cardiac treatment, having had 3 heart attacks, & had a stent after the second. It & my third were due to the GP not understanding why I was prescribed the cholesterol medication & taking me off it. It was only after my third that a cardiologist bothered to explain to me personally, the reason for the treatment. As A BSc I could understand. It is a pity the GP I was seeing did not.

    Oh & yes I did mean interpreted, thankyou, you just can't trust these spell cheque programs, can you. May be I would type better if I had not had 3 heart attacks.
    Rod63
    19th Aug 2016
    8:59pm
    "spell cheque" - was that a joke, Hasbeen?

    Hope you are travelling okay these days, after your issues.
    BILL5131
    18th Aug 2016
    12:22pm
    Having worked in public health I offer my 20c worth. There are seriously powerful vested interests in treating sick people rather than preventing the illness in the first place. I was run over by that particular bus. Knowing the right thing to do is one thing, getting it done is quite another in this world.
    veepee
    18th Aug 2016
    3:48pm
    So true - lots of misinformation still given regarding diet despite overwhelming evidence disproving same. It is telling when doctor hand out education packs provided by pharmaceutical companies which promote out dated advice which has actually contributed to heart disease.
    Cooky
    18th Aug 2016
    12:43pm
    I would ask NOT to have $$$$$$$$ spent on IVF people where it is NOT necessary for starters.
    NOT to spend the $$$$$ on people that WONT give up Smoking, Drug Addicts and the $$$ spent on REHAB, they go back out & use TAx payers $$$ just to RE- Offend. It's just CRAZY.
    Anonymous
    18th Aug 2016
    1:22pm
    I agree IVF should have $0 spent, breeding is not a life saving event.
    As for drug addicts and rehab $0, give them all an overdose for Xmas for wipe the scum off the face of the earth.
    jackie
    18th Aug 2016
    1:39pm
    What about the rest of the states? There is poverty amongst them too. We already know the rich have always had access to a healthier lifestyles and services. David Rockefeller is 99 after having had his sixth heart transplant in 38 years. How about showing how the poor fare against each other instead? It's like comparing drug cheats with athletes that compete naturally.
    4b2
    18th Aug 2016
    1:50pm
    Why is this a surprise. NT and FNQ are full of REDNECKS who believe they are Tonka Tuff. Even if there were facilities available I doubt the percentages would change.
    veepee
    18th Aug 2016
    3:59pm
    What the areas with the worst outcomes have in common is that they are lower income, in fact areas with a high dependence on social welfare and in many cases have far less access to medical care. Conversely the lowest incidence of heart disease occurs in wealthy areas where people are better educated and have access to much better healthcare and the disposable income to join gym, play sports etc. Areas in the lower socioeconomic demographic are also targeted by incredibly unhealthy fast food outlets providing cheap food. How many McDonalds and Hungry Jacks and the like do you think there are per capita in Sydney's Northern and Eastern suburbs compared with Logan and Ipswich? Education is important as is governments refusal to bow to multinationals who put profits above health.
    KSS
    18th Aug 2016
    2:24pm
    Why is this a surprise to anyone? Pick any condition, disease or illness and those living in regional and remote areas will always be shown as having worse outcomes than those living in metropolitan areas. If you cannot get to GP either because they are fully booked for three weeks in advance or there just isn't one for 400km its hardly surprising that hospital admissions would be greater. Also given the higher proportion of Aboriginal communities in far north QLD and the NT (and that they have poorer health outcomes than non-Aboriginal communities across Australia) no wonder hospital admissions for anything are higher.

    Given health and the provision of health services are State/Territory responsibilities one would have to ask questions of the QLD and NT Governments about the allocation of resources.
    particolor
    18th Aug 2016
    2:55pm
    Did I read it Right ? Or did I notice that Toff Areas fared the Best !! :-)
    veepee
    18th Aug 2016
    4:01pm
    You betcha!

    18th Aug 2016
    4:46pm
    I hate raw statistics because they can be used to prove or disprove anything the statistician wants to highlight. Perhaps the breakdown of the population in high risk areas as regards age, diet, ethnicity, smoking and alcohol consumption might go a way towards making sense of the data given.
    veepee
    18th Aug 2016
    10:41pm
    Risk of heart disease is related to all the above. People with better education and higher incomes can make better choices regarding those risk factors.
    Topsy
    21st Aug 2016
    2:37pm
    The only time my father had an admission to a hospital for a heart event was to take him to the morgue. Do they count those? On the one hand, had he read this article and he may have thought to do his part, a child of the 40's, war years, and post depression, would have resolved to himself, well I definitely won't go to a hospital for a suspected heart attack and waste precious state public resources, waste people's time, I'll take care of things myself and manage. A cardiac event at 5 in the morning, his wife by his side, and having worked every day of his life, from the age of 14 when he left school, the youngest of 7, up until the day before he died, I'm sure if given the choice yes he would have moved up and left his poorer siblings and taken his young family to go and live in North Sydney, the gold standard by which the Heart Maps define people's luck, good management, opportunities in life, and continued chance at living as they wish us all to aspire, but I think until that is a viable option (and lottery wins in our family were always taken seriously as a means of bettering ourselves), one goes where the employment is, then the blame can hardly be put on people for "choosing" to live in remote parts of Australia. I don't think the Heart Foundation article attempts to do this, however the comment in your article "Let’s hope that those affected most by heart disease are willing to accept the help offered through future programs, so that we can lower the risk of heart disease for every Australian." does.

    Prof Kelly in fact says in the article: “These higher rates are not because poor people make unhealthy choices. They are the result of a combination of social, economic and physical conditions, like a person’s access to education, employment, housing, transport, affordable healthy food, and social support,” Adj Prof John Kelly said.

    “These conditions shape matters such as people’s eating habits, participation in physical activity and their likelihood to see a doctor."

    My question is why can't money be put into Public Hospitals and they be made responsible for conducting programs that improve outcomes, and get to the heart of the problem(s). Why must these be mutually exclusive budgetary choices as your article proposes? Sure I suppose it was cheaper for the State for my father to die, than to suffer innumerable heart-related event hospital admissions, but perhaps the lost cost to society of a fully functioning, tax paying hard working male, the personal cost to me and my mother and siblings, in our village community, nearby town and specialist services only 650km away by public road, of losing Dad could also be taken into account in honouring the cost, with what would probably only take a small investment in terms of public education, no more or less, than say advertising the Census, the Election, the NSW Greyhound supportive campaign, after the decisions were made by Politicians, sort of really to explain themselves and garner support so that they aren't ousted at the next election... who is to say, after those funds are expended, maybe a little is left over, you know say to prevent a death. Statistics are all well and good, and have their place, but to do a dis-service to people by asking the question we'll only like to spend the money if they 'are willing' to change their life > without of course that lottery win being one socio-economic consideration > I guess everyone is willing given the right education, funds, support, to suggest otherwise is insulting.

    10 years on, we're still reeling from his death, and all far worse off without him. Perhaps on a final note, I could just encourage everyone to visit their doctor, make an appointment today, and by some slim chance it will save a life, your own. Let's not split hairs over who is at fault and why, the facts exist to enable us to better outcomes, not ignore our responsibility to do so. It would have been Dad's 76th birthday 2 days ago.
    BERRYUPSET
    28th Feb 2019
    11:41am
    What about all the other states??