Heart deaths more likely in regional communities
People living in regional, rural and remote areas are much more likely to die from heart conditions caused by high blood pressure than those in metropolitan areas, a study by major research group has found.
The Mary McKillop Institute for Health Research analysed disparities in heart disease among Federal electoral divisions.
In McMillan, that stretches from Pakenham to Moe and South Gippsland, deaths from heart conditions were slightly above the national average but, further east, the Gippsland electorate was rated the 10th worst in Australia with a rate 15 per cent above the national figure.
Almost 6500 McMillan residents are hospitalised with coronary heart disease each year.
The findings are not a surprise to Gippsland physician Dr Brett Forge.
He says there are a number of factors at play, distance one of them.
“In general, the further we get from Melbourne the harder it is to attract doctors and with the combination of limited financial resources, job insecurity and over-stretched doctors there is a poor uptake of medical services at the preventive stage”.
Only about half of the heart attack patients admitted to hospital have pre-existing and known coronary disease but the majority are not on appropriate medication, Dr Forge said.
He points to the “cardiology establishment” and its interventionist approach, such as putting stents in blocked coronary arteries as a reason.
“The cardiological craft group” has convinced politicians to invest vast amounts in increasing access to stenting, Dr Forge claims, citing a decision to set up a cardiac catheter unit at Traralgon that he believes will cost millions of dollars in set-up and ongoing costs but won’t save any lives.
“It will be under-utilised, not able to provide 24-hour coverage and of little benefit to