Remote Australians more likely to be hospitalised with heart-related issues
Patients from very remote Australia are nearly twice as likely to need a hospital for a heart-related event.
The Heart Foundation has released heart-related hospital admissions data maps, revealing huge gaps between city dwellers and those living in remote Australia.
Heart Foundation National Chief Executive Officer Adjunct Professor John Kelly said the maps bring together a national picture of hospital admission rates for the first time.
“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,” he said.
“This contrasts to areas with the lowest rates – particularly the northern suburbs of Sydney, where there is little disadvantage of 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 & Hornsby, which highlights the association between remoteness, disadvantage and our heart health.”
The heart maps reinforce the knowledge that heart admissions are correlated with obesity, smoking and physical activity.
However Professor Kelly points out that the differences are not because people from disadvantaged areas 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,” he explained.
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“These conditions shape matters such as people’s eating habits, participation in physical activity and their likelihood to see a doctor.
He said governments and health services need to work together to provide access and opportunities for people in more remote locations.
“Prevention programs work, simple early detection and heart health checks by doctors can help early identification of the risk factors and reduce hospital admissions.
“Health is a basic human right. It should not matter who you are, how much you earn or where you live,” he said.
Top 5 Regions for Heart-Related Hospital Admissions
Top 5 Regions with the lowest heart-related hospital admission rates