A doctor examining a patient's heart beat with a stethoscope. Photo: File
A doctor examining a patient's heart beat with a stethoscope. Photo: File

’High blood pressure capital’: CQ’s heart-health epidemic

THE sunshine state dominates Australia's top 10 least physically active regions, new figures reveal, and the places with some of the nation's lowest exercise rates are all in regional Queensland.

The Heart Foundation today released new Australian Heart Maps data showing a city-country divide persists across rates of heart disease risk factors, deaths, and hospitalisations.

Echoing a nationwide trend, levels of obesity, high blood pressure, inactivity and smoking are worse across the board for regional Queenslanders compared to their big city counterparts.

The maps confirm regional Queensland is home to seven of the 10 least active regions in the country and half of Australia's top 10 high blood pressure hot spots.

Central Queensland is Australia's high blood pressure capital, where the silent killer affects almost one in four adults; the Mackay-Isaac-Whitsundays comes in fourth by the same measure.

Queensland is the second most inactive state after South Australia, and nine of the 10 least active locations are in the regions - the places clocking up the most steps are in the south-east corner, led by inner-city Brisbane.

The national top 10 inactivity hot spots also takes in Central Queensland and the Mackay region, the latter of which has obesity rates higher than the state average.

A woman having a heart attack. Picture: iStock
A woman having a heart attack. Picture: iStock

Heart Foundation Queensland CEO Stephen Vines said the results highlighted a great divide in heart health across communities.

"This paints a grim picture of how Australia's single biggest killer continues to stalk the sunshine state, and the heart health gaps that exist depending on where you call home," he said.

"It's no coincidence that regions with the highest rates of heart disease are also likely to be the most disadvantaged areas. Unsurprisingly, we are seeing alarming rates of obesity and physical inactivity in these hot spots, which have huge implications for residents' future heart health.

"It's equally concerning to see Queensland regions have some of the worst rates of high blood pressure - a condition that can be silent yet puts you at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke."

Nationwide, heart disease deaths are more than 50 per cent higher for Australians in remote locations compared to their capital city counterparts.

In the Queensland Outback, which has the highest heart disease death rates in the state and second highest in Australia after the Northern Territory Outback, they are close to twice as high as in Brisbane's western suburbs.

Almost all the hardest-hit regions for deaths are outside metro areas, except for Brisbane South, which ranks third.

Queensland's top 10 locations for hospitalisations are all in regional or rural areas.

Mr Vines said all Queenslanders deserved to live a full and healthy life, no matter where they lived.

"The Heart Foundation is committed to bringing these numbers down and improving the heart health of all Queenslanders," he said.

"These maps illustrate which parts of the state are in greatest need of heart health services and investment, and we urge the Queensland Government to step up measures to tackle these gaps.

"We also implore Queenslanders to take action to protect their heart health - if you're 45 and over, or from age 30 if you're Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, talk to your GP about having a Heart Health Check."


CQ's top risk factors

- Almost one in four adults (24 per cent) has high blood pressure (the highest rate of any region)

- 74.3 per cent are not physically active enough

- 36.9 per cent are obese

- 19.3 per cent smoke


Australia's top 10 high blood pressure hot spots

1. Central Queensland (QLD)

2. Hunter Valley exc Newcastle (NSW)

3. Sydney - Parramatta (NSW)

4. Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday (QLD)

5. Townsville (QLD)

6. Wide Bay (QLD)

7. Western Australia - Outback (South) (WA)

8. Illawarra (NSW)

9. Shepparton (VIC)

10. Toowoomba (QLD)


Australia's top 10 physical inactivity hot spots

1. Sydney - South West (NSW)

2. Logan-Beaudesert (QLD)

3. Ipswich (QLD)

4. Darling Downs-Maranoa (QLD)

5. Wide Bay (QLD)

6. Sydney - Blacktown (NSW)

7. Central Queensland (QLD)

8. Adelaide - North (SA)

9. Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday (QLD)

10. Moreton Bay-North (QLD)