NEWCASTLE and Lake Macquarie has the fifth highest death rate from coronary heart disease in NSW, 19 per cent above the state average, new data shows.
The latest Heart Foundation figures show that the region - which includes the Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle and Port Stephens local government areas - also makes the top 10 for hospitalisations for coronary heart disease, with rates about 13 per cent above the state average.
But Deborah Moore, of the Heart Foundation, found the levels of risk factors in the region to be the most alarming.
"The end stage - which is your heart attack, your coronary heart disease, and morbidity and mortality as a result of those things, can actually all be prevented if you address the risk factors early enough," she said.
"The things people have more control over are rates of smoking, rates of obesity, activity levels.
"In the Hunter Valley, excluding Newcastle, we are 35 per cent above average for smoking rates. For obesity, we are 36 per cent above the state average.
"We are sitting at 42 percent of people who are either overweight or obese, and for high blood pressure, we're the top of the state."
In the Newcastle region, more than 34 per cent of adults are obese, about 16 per cent smoke, about 60 per cent are not active enough, and 24 per cent have high blood pressure.
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