BALLARAT is the worst Victorian region for cardiovascular disease.
Nearly one third of residents (32.3 per cent) have CVD, which causes heart attacks and strokes.
It is also the second worst Australian CVD area behind New South Wales’ Southern Highlands/Shoalhaven (33 per cent).
A geographical snapshot of Australia’s heart health, released by the Heart Foundation on Thursday, also shows
Ballarat is the worst region in the nation for physical inactivity (85.3 per cent), the third worst for smoking (28.1) and the tenth for high blood pressure (40.6).
It also ranks 27th for obesity (32.9) and 63rd for high cholesterol (29.2).
At a state level, Ballarat ranks top for CVD, smoking and physical inactivity and second behind Latrobe/Gippsland for high blood pressure and obesity.
The region rates fourth best for high cholesterol.
Heart Foundation chief executive officer Diana Heggie said the statistics were a massive wake-up call for the region, which includes Ballarat, Creswick, Daylesford, Ballan, Maryborough and the Pyrenees.
“These figures are really quite significant,” Ms Heggie said. “Eighty-five per cent of Ballarat residents aren’t getting enough exercise, yet you can reduce your blood pressure by walking 10 to 15 minutes a day.
“It is also the second highest region for smoking, which people tend to associate with cancer, but is a big risk factor in heart disease.”
Ms Heggie said people in rural areas often found it more difficult to access heart health checks, relied on cars rather than walking and tended to have less fresh food shops than in metropolitan areas.
“We know people living in regional areas have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke because they are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, be physically inactive, overweight or obese, or smoke.
“If I had one message for Ballarat, it’s to go get a heart health check.”
She said GPs looked at weight, physical activity, cholesterol levels and family background before assessing heart health.
“This is a very strong message for the Ballarat region. Look after your heart health and take it into your own hands,” Ms Heggie said.