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Weston Creek is ACT's heart disease capital

Weston Creek has Canberra's highest prevalence of cardiovascular disease.
Weston Creek has Canberra's highest prevalence of cardiovascular disease. 

Weston Creek is the ACT's heart disease capital with nearly one in three residents affected, while Woden has the territory's highest rates of hypertension and high cholesterol. 

The snapshot of the territory's heart health, released by the Heart Foundation on Thursday, reveals Weston Creek has Canberra's highest prevalence of cardiovascular disease, with nearly a third of residents suffering from the condition.

Across the territory and nationally, about one in five adults have cardiovascular disease. South Canberra and Woden also had high rates of cardiovascular disease. 

The data, which was analysed by the Heart Foundation from the Bureau of Statistics' Australian health survey 2011-12, revealed Woden had the country's sixth highest rate of hypertension, with more than two in five adults suffering from high blood pressure or taking medication to control it.

About 42.2 per cent of adults in Woden had hypertension, well above the ACT average of 29.2 per cent. The national average was 31.6 per cent.

Heart Foundation ACT chief executive Tony Stubbs said hypertension was a critical risk factor in relation to heart disease, with nearly half of all deaths from heart disease and disability attributable to hypertension. 

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Woden emerged as the territory's worst for high cholesterol with about 38.1 per cent of residents suffering from it. The ACT average was 31.6 per cent while, nationally, about one in three Australians have high cholesterol. 

Woden also had the territory's highest rate of overweight people. Tuggeranong had the highest obesity rate. 

In Weston Creek, Woden, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin, more than half of adults were insufficiently physically active.

Mr Stubbs was flabbergasted by the data, which he said should act as a wake-up call for ACT residents to start looking after their heart health. 

"I think there's a thought with heart disease that we've got it managed now that we're reducing our smoking, we've got better treatments and medications for people and that if they just take a pill, they'll be OK," he said. 

"We've really got to look at what the underlying problems are and the data is showing that we're getting worse in terms of our increasing blood pressure, our increase in cholesterol levels, our increase in obesity levels ... I think it's a stark reminder that although we thought we were going OK in the ACT, we're not." 

Mr Stubbs said Weston Creek and Woden were two pockets of particular concern. He said the median age in Weston Creek and Woden was higher than in the other ACT areas analysed. 

"It is concerning that the regions are so much higher than the ACT and national averages," he said.

"What we can ascertain from the data is that age is an issue but also it may have something to do with it being a bit more isolated out there, and the potential that people drive a lot more from that region." 

ACT Medicare Local board member and local GP Felicity Donaghy said the data was worrying and prevention was crucial to reducing the numbers.

Dr Donaghy said people could have a heart health check with their GP which could identify their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. She said doctors could also provide appropriate care and advice on how to reduce risk factors. 

She said people who had already had a heart attack or stroke also needed to focus on reducing their risk of having another one. 

Mr Stubbs said the risk of developing heart disease increased with age, but physical inactivity, smoking and poor diet were also risk factors. 

He said there needed to be greater investment in early detection and screening of people with chronic diseases.

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