A local expert has warned diseases associated with the ageing population could topple heart disease as the leading cause of death.
According to the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 279 people in the Wagga Local Government Area died of coronary heart disease between 2013 and 2017.
Alzheimer's disease and dementia equated to the second leading cause of death, with 120 women dying during that time compared to 71 men.
Wagga Base Hospital geriatrician Matthew Thompson said a "tidal wave" of Alzheimer's and dementia could see the disease overtake heart disease as the most common cause of death.
"[Worldwide] in 2013, about 44 million people had Alzheimer's dementia and it's expected to reach 76 million in 2030 and 135 million in 2050," Dr Thompson said.
"There really is going to be a massive increase in the number of people having dementia in the not too distant future and I think part of that is because we're all living longer.
"I think now there's a lot of work going into it because it is finally being recognised as a major problem that isn't going to go away, but is actually going to become much more of an issue in the near future."
Dr Thompson said while plans are in place to bring the services to regional patients, the current facilities are not reaching what is required.
"There is a lot of work going into setting up memory clinics to diagnose, support and treat people with dementia, but we probably aren't equipped to manage people as well as we potentially could be," he said.
"I'm hoping overtime the services will improve and develop and we'll be able to manage people's dementia a bit better, but I think at the moment our services are probably not meeting demand and there's certainly more we could be doing."
Alzheimer's and dementia rates are rising across Australia, with more women than men afflicted.
Dr Thompson said higher rates for females is likely because they have greater life expectancy as opposed to males.
"It was almost seen as being a normal part of ageing for people's memories to decline as they got older and now it's being recognised that this isn't necessarily a normal part of ageing and rather a disease process," he said.
"There are some things that people can do to lower the risk of getting dementia and a number of these things relate to eating a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables ... as well as maintaining physical, social and mental activity."
Maintaining a healthy diet and frequently participating in exercise are also ways people can reduce their chances of suffering from coronary heart disease.
Coolamon resident Mick Downs suffered a heart attack 10 years ago at the age of 51 after living a life heavily consumed with alcohol and cigarettes.
"I was in the navy for 29 years and I was a heavy smoker and drinker," Mr Downs said. "In the '70s, it was encouraged to smoke; cricket was sponsored by tobacco companies and there was no education about the consequences.
"I've been given another crack at life and now I don't smoke or drink, but it was pretty hard and a cultural shock going from a smoker to a non-smoker."
Mr Downs is the organiser of Wagga's cardiac walking group, which is funded by the Heart Foundation.
"We walk the five kilometres around the Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Mondays and Thursdays and it's a good social outlet for a few people," he said.
"Cardio doesn't stop, it's ongoing for life and walking is to be encouraged. Our biggest fear of having a heart attack is closing your eyes and not opening them again."
The small group includes a man with dementia as well as those who have survived heart attacks.
Wagga cardiologist and Associate Professor Joseph Suttie said there are no known environmental or genetic causes that would lead to increased cardiovascular disease in the city.
"While we've had incredible advancements in heart treatments: much better stenting, pace makers and imaging for early detection disease, these technologies and fantastic medications are only useful if they get to the right patients who need them," Professor Suttie said.
"Cardiovascular disease is very much a problem which is still the leading cause of death around developed economies around the world. It's also really important to remember that heart disease can not only affect anybody but it can also present with atypical or even no symptoms, so it can be a silent killer.
"As doctors we make an effort to understand where patients are coming from ... because we know it's not easy, but the rewards are immense," he said.