Hunter Valley hearts need a healthier focus

There’s no reason to celebrate the Hunter’s inclusion in this top five list.

According to new data released by the Heart Foundation, the Hunter Valley had the fourth highest heart-related hospital admissions in NSW during a study that took place for two years up to mid-2014.

The study investigated the number of hospital admissions that resulted in either transfer, discharge, change in care or deathacross Australia in relation to heart failure, heart attacks and unstable angina.

In NSW, the Hunter was beaten only by the Riverina,Far West and Orana and Blacktown.

The figures showed that, compared with a state average of 44.8, the Hunter recorded a rate of 69.9 admissions per 10,000 people.

It may have taken some time for these figures to have been released, but they should serve as a warning that Hunter residents need to pick up the pace when it comes to building healthy lifestyles.

The results have been loaded onto an online, interactive map so the areas most at-risk of heart disease can easily be identified and helped.

For the Hunter, in particular, that’s a goodthing.

Heart Foundation NSW CEO Kerry Doyle said regional townsgenerally had poorer health outcomes, partly because of lifestyle risk factors.

She said residents of regional areas were “significantly more likely to have high blood pressure, smoke andbe obese”.

The Heart Foundation, a charity aimed at promoting awareness of and reducing heart disease, has a range of easily accessibleinitiatives to help peoplemaketheir lives healthier.

Ms Doyle saidthe CessnockHealthy Lifestyle Network and Jump Rope For Heart Outreach were among the useful programs available in the Hunter.

“We need to make sure we keep supporting the communities that are not doing so well toensure they can take some simple steps to improve their heart health – stop smoking, be moreactive and get a heart health check to understand your risk,” she said.

While organisations like the Heart Foundation are helpful and do good work for communities, ultimately it’s each individual’s responsibility to make lifestyle changes where necessary.

That’s the only way we can avoid being so highly ranked on lists like this in future.

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