Indigenous people in the Hunter Valley, excluding Newcastle, are 2.4 times more likely to be hospitalised for a heart-related condition than non-Indigenous people.
The shocking figures come from data released by the Heart Foundation, which show the Hunter’s results are below the state average of 2.1 but they are better than the national average of 2.6.
The Heart Foundation’s Aboriginal engagement manager Corey Turner said partnerships with Indigenous communities and health professionals were critical.
“We want to work with communities, local Aboriginal medical services and health professionals, taking time to listen and understand the local issues that impact on heart health of communities,” he said.
“We know that heart health improves with a good education, secure employment, adequate housing and access to affordable healthy food.”
The figures, released this month, include Cessnock, Dungog, Liverpool Plains, Maitland, Mid-Coast, Muswellbrook, Port Stephens, Singleton and Upper Hunter Shire.
“We cannot be complacent about the rates of heart disease being experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as heart disease is responsible for around one quarter of the gap in life expectancy compared to non-Indigenous Australians,” Health Equity Manager Jane Potter added.
Indigenous women in NSW are 2.5 times more likely to be admitted to hospital for a heart-related condition than non-Indigenous women.
The gap for Indigenous men in NSW is smaller, with them 1.8 times more likely to go to hospital for a heart condition than non-Indigenous men. The Heart Foundation is working with 18 hospitals across Australia as part of the Lighthouse Hospital Project, which aims to create safe experiences for Indigenous peoples when they are admitted to hospital for heart problems.
The data is available on the Australian Heart Maps, a national map of hospital admissions for heart events.