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Do you live in a NSW heart-attack hot spot?
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Do you live in a NSW heart-attack hot spot?

Media Release - 1 December 2020

New Heart Foundation figures released today reveal the NSW regions with the highest and lowest rates of hospitalisations from heart attack.

The figures show that the Riverina region – which includes Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Gundagai and Deniliquin – is the state’s heart-attack capital. People living in this region are admitted to hospital for heart attacks at a rate of 21.5 per 10,000 people. This is well above the state average (14.5).

Sydney’s Blacktown region is a close second, with a heart-attack hospitalisation rate of 21.1, followed by Sydney’s Outer South West (18.7), Richmond - Tweed (18.2) and Coffs Harbour -Grafton (18.1). The lowest rates are found in Sydney’s most affluent areas.


The statistics are part of the latest update to the Heart Foundation’s Australian Heart Maps. This is an online tool that allows users to look at data for heart disease deaths, hospitalisations and risk factors at a national, state, regional and LGA level.

According to the data, the New England and North West region, which includes Tamworth, Armidale, Inverell, Moree and Gunnedah, has the state’s highest rate of deaths from coronary heart disease (CHD). This region’s death rate is 85.8 out of every 100,000 people, well above the state average of 64.5. It is also nearly double the region with the lowest rate, North Sydney and Hornsby. Of the 10 NSW regions with the lowest CHD death rates, all are in metropolitan Sydney.

In terms of heart disease risk factors:

  • Obesity: The Far West and Orana region, which includes Dubbo, Broken Hill, Gilgandra and Bourke, has the state’s highest rate of obesity (44.4 per cent). This is more than double the rate of North Sydney and Hornsby (18.6 per cent), which has the lowest. 
  • Smoking: Far West and Orana tops the state again, with a smoking rate of 21.2 per cent – three times higher than the lowest-ranked region (North Sydney and Hornsby, 7.1 per cent).  Of the 10 regions with the highest smoking rates, all but one are in regional and rural areas. 
  • Blood pressure: Across all regions, just over one in five people in NSW has high blood pressure. The rate is highest in the Hunter Valley (excluding Newcastle) and Sydney’s Parramatta (both with a rate of 23.9 per cent). 
  • Physical inactivity: Sydney’s South West has the highest rate, with more than three in four people not active enough for good health. People living on Sydney’s Northern Beaches are the most active in NSW, but even there, more than half are still not active enough.

“These figures reveal an alarming inequality between the NSW residents who are most and least at risk of heart disease, as well as those who are most and least likely to be hospitalised or die from the condition, including from a heart attack,” said the Heart Foundation’s NSW/ACT Heart Health Manager, Anna Flynn.

“If you live in the state’s remote south, north or west, or in a disadvantaged part of Sydney, you have a much higher chance of heart disease, which remains the single leading cause of death in NSW,” Ms Flynn said.

“This is unacceptable, and the Heart Foundation will continue its work to reduce heart disease. We also urge governments at all levels to take action to curb the toll – especially in regional, rural and disadvantaged areas, where our Heart Maps show the burden of heart disease is at its highest.”

The Heart Foundation encourages all NSW residents 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.

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