Stawell residents are among the state's most likely to suffer from death due to coronary heart disease, new data from The Heart Foundation has revealed.
The Australian Heart Maps data showed the risk of death from coronary heart disease for people living in the North West region, which includes Ararat, Horsham, Northern Grampians, West Wimmera, Yarriambiack and Hindmarsh Shires is 20 per cent higher than the state average.
A rate of 73.7 deaths per 100,000 is second highest in the state, behind Warrnambool and South West's figure of 73.9 per 100,000.
The rate of heart attack hospitalisations per 10,000 people in the North West is second highest in the state at 17.3 per 10,000, which represented a 27 per cent increase compared to the state average.
Heart Foundation Victoria chief executive Kelli-Ann Jolly said when it comes to heart health, a great divide exists between Victoria's regional communities and their metro counterparts.
"What these alarming figures tell us is that social and economic disadvantage matter for your heart," Ms Jolly said.
"Victorians who live in the state's most disadvantaged areas are more likely to have significant risk factors, be hospitalised for heart attack or die from coronary heart disease."
The data revealed regional Victoria is home to the highest rates across three out of four risk factors for heart disease - smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and high blood pressure.
Smoking is most prevalent in the North West, with 22.2 per cent of the population smoking, compared to the state average of 15.5 per cent.
The number of obese people in the North West ranks within the state's top five, with 37.1 per cent of North West residents classified as obese, with Shepparton topping the state with 39.8 per cent of its population deemed to be obese.
Ms Jolly said the linkage between better heart health and secure work, good education and access to healthy food and appropriate health services is well known.
"The burden of heart disease weighs heavy on us all and so it's time to act to close the metro-regional divide," she said.
"We need government, communities, industry and individuals to work together to address these inequalities."
The Australian Heart Maps is an online tool that allows people to view data for heart disease deaths, hospitalisations and risk factors at a national, state, regional and local government level.
To find out more, visit heartfoundation.org.au
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