Assessing cardiovascular risk in regional areas: the Healthy Hearts – Beyond City Limits program
Carrington, Melinda J
Jennings, Garry L
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Background Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is more prevalent in regional and remote Australia compared to metropolitan areas. The aim of Healthy Hearts was to determine age and sex specific CVD risk factor levels and the potential value of national risk clinics. Methods Healthy Hearts was an observational research study conducted in four purposefully selected higher risk communities in regional Victoria, Australia. The main outcome measures were the proportion of participants with CVD risk factors with group comparisons to determine the adjusted likelihood of elevated risk factor levels. Trained personnel used a standardized protocol over four weeks per community to measure CVD risk factor levels, estimate absolute CVD risk and provide feedback and advice. Results A total of 2125 self-selected participants were assessed (mean age 58 ± 15 years, 57% women). Overall, CVD risk factors were highly prevalent. More men than women had ≥ 2 modifiable CVD risk factors (76% vs. 68%, p < .001), pre-existing CVD (20 vs. 15%, p < .01) and a major ECG abnormality requiring follow-up (15% vs. 7%, p < .001) . Less men reported depressive symptoms compared to women (28% vs. 22%, p < .01). A higher proportion of women were obese (adjusted OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.63), and physically inactive (adjusted OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.63). Conclusions High CVD risk factor levels were confirmed for regional Victoria. Close engagement with individuals and communities provides scope for the application of regional risk management clinics to reduce the burden of CVD risk in regional Australia.