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Matters of the heart: Number one cause of death across Western Plains revealed

Western Plains App

Luke Williams

12 May 2024, 9:20 PM

Matters of the heart: Number one cause of death across Western Plains revealed Image: Virtual Medical Centre

We are dying because our own heart is failing us - but there is something you can do to help prevent you and your loved ones from succumbing to the condition.

New data from the Public Health Information Development Unit at Torrens University shows Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the number one cause of death in our region with an astonishing 256 people dying from the condition - also known as heart attack or angina - between 2017 and 2021 across the Western Plains. 

Gilgandra topped the list with 43 deaths from CHD over that period, Walgett had 40, Warrumbungle 36, Narromine had 25 with Cobar and Brewarrina having 20. 

Image: National Centre for Farmers Health. 

CHD occurs when there is when there is a narrowing or blockage in the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle.  

CHD is considered preventable with modifiable risk factors including smoking, high blood pressure, physical activity, diet and obesity. 

Dr RT Lewandowski, President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, said that getting ahead of heart disease by checking heart health before suffering symptoms saves many lives. 

“People living in regional and rural areas have an increased risk of heart disease and, adding to that, the further a person lives from a major city, the higher their chance of being hospitalised or dying from cardiovascular disease (CDV)."

"CDV is actually the leading cause of death in rural and remote areas” he said. 

“People from rural areas are also less able to access to facilities and supports for a heart-healthy lifestyle, such as quality and affordable fresh food, sporting clubs, exercise facilities, and environments conducive to walking and cycling.

“While these things do make it harder, it is not impossible, and lifestyle health benefits can be enormous and are well worth additional effort,” Dr Lewandowski added. 

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - also referred to as emphysema - is the second most likely cause of death in our regions with 180 deaths between 2017-2021.