Australians living in rural and regional areas are more likely to experience cardiovascular disease than those in the city.

Bush dwellers are 26 per cent more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than those living in major cities, research shows.

One in four people living in regional and rural areas experience the disease, compared with one in five in metropolitan areas, according to the National Heart Foundation of Australia’s geographical snapshot of cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular conditions, which include heart attack and stroke, kill one Australian every 12 minutes – the leading cause of death in Australia.

The Southern Highlands/Shoalhaven region in NSW tops the nation with more than one in three adults suffering cardiovascular disease.

Other regions with high rates are Ballarat in Victoria, Weston Creek in the ACT, the Central Coast in NSW and the Hunter Valley in NSW, where about one in three people have cardiovascular disease.

Cairns in Queensland and the South East region of South Australia top their states for cardiovascular disease prevalence with more than one in four people suffering the disease.

Heart Foundation chief executive Mary Barry said those 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.

“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,” said Ms Barry.

Greater focus on prevention and management of heart disease is needed in rural Australia in particular, she said.

“Prevention programs work, simple early detection and heart health checks by doctors can help identify your risk of heart attack or stroke.”

It’s also vital that individuals take steps to protect their own health.

“So ask your doctor for a heart health check to find out your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and what you can do to help prevent it.”


1. Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven, NSW

2. Ballarat, VIC

3. Weston Creek, ACT

4. Central Coast, NSW

5. Hunter Valley exc Newcastle, NSW

6. Launceston and North East, TAS

7. Sydney – Outer West and Blue Mountains, NSW

8. Richmond – Tweed, NSW

9. South Australia – South East, SA

10. South Canberra, ACT

11. Hobart, TAS

12. Cairns, QLD

13. Mandurah, WA

14. Melbourne – Outer East, VIC

15. West and North West, TAS

16. Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, NSW

17. Riverina, NSW

18. Western Australia – Wheat Belt, WA

19. Mornington Peninsula, VIC

20. Brisbane East, QLD