Call for action on killer disease striking at our heart
THE Mackay-Isaac-Whitsundays is among the 10 worst hot spots for heart-related hospitalisations across Australia.
Ranking ninth, the region is one of 11 in Queensland to rank in the nation's top 20.
Queensland is also home to eight of the nation's 20 worst hot spots for heart disease deaths. Most of these are in regional Queensland.
The Heart Foundation is calling on the next Queensland Government to throw its support behind improving cardiac care to stop the scourge of heart disease plaguing regional and remote areas.
The Heart Foundation has four key priorities it says could help turn these figures around.
The organisation wants continued delivery of outreach cardiac services across all regional areas as well as face-to-face group or remote delivered programs ensuring everyone can access cardiac rehabilitation programs.
It also seeks further work towards ending the burden of rheumatic heart disease on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland; and boosting funding for the Queensland Cardiac Outcomes Register of heart conditions to improve the safety and quality of cardiac care.
Heart disease is a leading killer in Australia.
People living with heart disease are also more vulnerable to experiencing severe complications if infected with COVID-19.
On average, 15 people die and 246 are hospitalised for heart disease every day in Queensland.
The Heart Foundation heart map also looks at obesity, smoking and other triggers for heart health by region.
Heart Foundation Queensland CEO Stephen Vines said investing in preventive health was vital to keeping people healthy and resilient as the state dealt with the challenges arising from COVID-19.
Mr Vines said the upcoming election was a critical opportunity to tackle heart health gaps.
Queensland has the second highest age-standardised rate of heart-related hospitalisations in the nation, after the Northern Territory, with Australian Heart Maps data showing the hardest-hit regions were almost all outside the state's capital.
"Sadly, Queensland dominates Australia's heart disease hot spots, and people living in regional and remote areas are faring worse than their big city counterparts," Mr Vines said.
"Significant disadvantage, coupled with difficulty accessing services, has meant some regional patients are unable to get the medical help they need to diagnose and treat heart conditions.
"All Queenslanders, regardless of where they live, deserve lifesaving cardiac services when they need it.
"Increasing cardiac rehab options and improving access to programs statewide will give patients the best chance of recovering from a heart condition and avoiding going back to hospital.
"It is also vital we continue to invest in reducing the burden of RHD, an insidious disease that stems largely from social disadvantage and mainly affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities."
Mr Vines urged all MPs to join the fight for Queensland hearts in the lead-up to the October 31 poll.
"As we move forward in recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, we are calling on all political parties to commit to working with the Heart Foundation to improve the heart health of all Queenslanders, reduce health inequities and save lives through better cardiac care."
QUEENSLAND HEART DISEASE HOTSPOTS
Regions with highest age-standardised rates of heart-related hospitalisations, with national ranking:
Queensland Outback (2)
Wide Bay (4)
Moreton Bay-North (7)
Central Queensland (12)
Darling Downs-Maranoa (14)
Regions with highest age-standardised rates of heart disease deaths, with national ranking:
Queensland Outback (2)
Darling Downs-Maranoa (12)
Moreton Bay-North (17)
Wide Bay (20)