“When you have to set up a metabolic – obesity – clinic, you know there is a problem.”
Wagga GP Patricia Overvliet’s words follow an investigation into Wagga’s leading causes of death.
It comes after the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare took on the grim task of counting 765,911 fatalities across five years.
According to this data, close to 40 per cent of the city’s former residents died from either heart attacks, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, lung cancer, respiratory diseases or diabetes, between 2012 and 2016.
Coronary heart disease was Wagga’s top killer, accounting for close to 14 per cent of all deaths, during that period.
The second biggest cause of death was dementia, which was 7 per cent above the national mortality rate.
Strokes and lung cancer were listed third and fourth respectively.
Death may be a part of life, but Dr Overvliet said some cases could be avoided or at least delayed with a healthier lifestyle.
It is common sense.Patricia Overvliet
While heart attacks remained the biggest cause of death Australia-wide, Wagga was found to have a higher mortality rate for not only heart attacks, but lung cancer, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as well.
“There are a number of risk factors (regarding heart attacks) people need to address,” Dr Overvliet said.
“We need to make sure we have a good healthy diet … and we need to spend at least 30 minutes a day exercising.”
The Wagga GP said ultimately, any exercise was better than no exercise.
“Definitely don’t smoke,” she said.
“There are just so many ramifications that lead to bigger problems … it is common sense. I’m very passionate about it.”
Dr Overvliet said family history and other factors could also play a part in the causes of residents’ deaths.
Get checked by your doctor.Patricia Overvliet
“Get checked by your doctor. That’s a big thing in the community,” she said.
“High blood pressure is an artery killing condition … get checked out once a year.”
If you are troubled by this report or experiencing a personal crisis, you can call Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636 or visit lifeline.org.au or beyondblue.org.au for more information.