Cardio risk for rural residents

Rural and regional Australians are at greater risk of heart problems.
Rural and regional Australians are at greater risk of heart problems.

The geographical snapshot of CVD shows one in four people living outside capital cities are suffering from the disease compared to one in five in metropolitan areas.

In Perth’s southeast, the prevalence of CVD is considered low at 16.5 per cent, while Mandurah has a high prevalence, with 27.5 per cent of its population suffering from the disease.

Heart Foundation national chief executive Mary Barry said there were several reasons for the disparities.

‘We know people living in regional areas have a greater risk of heart disease because they are more likely to be physically inactive, daily smokers and overweight or obese, than those living in major cities,’ Ms Barry said.

‘Country people are also often disadvantaged by difficulty in accessing medical services “getting a heart health check and managing CVD once you have it is more difficult.’

Western Australia has the biggest gap in the prevalence of CVD between the city and the bush, being one in six and one in four respectively.

Prevalence of cardiovascular disease in Perth’s southeast:

– High cholesterol: medium at 31.1 per cent

– Hypertension: medium at 29.8 per cent

– Obesity: medium at 27.4 per cent

– Physical inactivity: High at 66.4 per cent

– Smoking: High at 21.3 per cent

BENTLEY Health Service has set up specialised programs providing preventative and rehabilitation services for people at risk or suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Consultant physician Christopher Etherton-Beer said this included a specialised stroke rehabilitation program.

‘This allows stroke survivors to receive specialised neuro-therapy and care from highly trained doctors, nurses, social workers and allied health professionals including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and dieticians,’ he said.

‘Many of the programs also focus on the wellbeing of people living with vascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke.’

Professor Etherton-Beer said heart disease or stroke were preventable and encouraged locals to make positive lifestyle choices.’While we can’t change our genetic make-up or age there is compelling evidence that stopping smoking, controlling diabetes, managing high blood pressure and treating high blood cholesterol reduce the risk of vascular events including heart disease and stroke,’ he said.

Mr Etherton-Beer said although there were common heart attack symptoms, there were exceptions.

‘Many people are aware of the textbook or typical description of a heart attack such as severe crushing central chest pain, radiating to the arm and jaw,’ he said.

‘Angina, caused by poor heart blood supply is also typically associated with dull central chest discomfort that may radiate to the arm or jaw.

‘It’s important to remember that many people suffer heart disease without these typical symptoms.’

Stroke advice from consultant physician Christopher Etherton-Beer:

Check for the signs of stroke F.A.S.T.

The F.A.S.T. test is an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke – face, arm, speech, time.

Check their face. Has their mouth drooped? Can they lift both arms? Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

Time is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000.