A Launceston cardiologist says Northern Tasmanians can not afford to be complacent about about the risks of obesity and diabetes and their contribution towards heart disease.
Dr Geoff Evans said the Charles Clinic Heart Care received between 100 and 150 referrals per week and had seen more than 20,000 patients since its establishment in 2010.
Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in Australia for both males and females, causing 12.4 per cent of deaths in 2015.
While the number of deaths dropped from 23,132 in 2006 to 19,777 in 2015, Dr Evans said “a time of reckoning” was approaching.
While the instances of death is decreasing the prevalence of heart disease is on the rise.
“I am actually really concerned that the numbers are about to get worse again with obesity and diabetes increasing,” he said.
“As a profession we have been better at reducing rates of people dying from an acute heart attack and the community have put some effort into awareness and treatment but with obesity increasing like it is, that is now going to overwhelm us.”
Dr Evans said Tasmania was now the fattest state in Australia and lifestyle choices that contributed to it would “come back to haunt us”.
“Obesity says a number of things, it say you’re not exercising enough and we’re eating too much of the wrong thing and the problem with obesity is that the more it goes on the more likely you are to get type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.
“It all links in together … and once we knock off a bit of the muscle the heart is permanently damaged, so although people might survive a heart attack, they are often unable to exercise adequately, they are chronically short of breath and they end up with heart failure.
“They have a poor quality of life, they suffer, their family suffers and there is a lot of medication.”
The key to breaking the cycle is knowledge.
“We do have a big health issues here which needs to be addressed and I think people need to be educated about it,” Dr Evans said.
With other leading causes of death, such as stroke and lung cancer, there is a strong likelihood of heart disease.
“The statistics do tend to point out the biggest cause, but we know for a lot of other people who have got these other conditions that they have ischaemic heart disease as well.”
In 1968, the rate of death from heart disease was more than six times greater than what it is today, 428.3 deaths per 100,000 persons compared to 66.1 in 2015.
In 2015, about one in five Australians died either from heart disease, or with heart disease identified as a contributing factor.