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Heart disease remains leading cause of death for Queenslanders

In Queensland Health’s My Amazing Body podcast, Dr Greg Starmer, Cardiology Director at Cairns Hospital, says coronary artery disease is the most common cause of death in the western world – and this is true for Queensland.

Coronary heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the state, with more than 19,000 Queenslanders succumbing to the disease between 2014-2018, representing 12.8 per cent of all causes of death according to the Health of Queenslanders 2020 Report.

And it’s not just our most senior residents that are dying of coronary heart disease. It’s also the second leading cause of death for Queenslanders aged 35-64 years after digestive cancers.

“Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to a build-up of cholesterol and plaque in the arteries. The heart needs blood and nutrients, if it can’t get that due to an obstruction, it causes certain areas of the heart to be starved.

“We only have one heart, so it's important we know how to look after it. It really boils down to healthy living. Smoking is absolutely a disastrous thing you can do for your heart and your body, and all forms of illicit drugs have detrimental effects on your heart.

“It also comes down to simple things like diet and exercise. Exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight are crucial. You can do this by keeping a diet low in fat and refined sugar and ensure that you spend the energy you gain from food,” he said.

Heart Foundation Queensland Heart Health Manager, Associate Professor Anna Lewis, also added the best way to take care of your heart is to follow a healthy lifestyle and know your risks for heart disease.

“If you’re 45 and over, or from age 30 if you’re Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, talk to your GP about having a Heart Health Check, which will help determine your risk of a heart attack or stroke,” Assoc Prof Lewis said.

“The good news is many risk factors can be managed by making lifestyle changes and taking appropriate medications as prescribed, and your doctor will support you in taking the necessary steps to improve your heart health,” she said.

If you have questions on how to be heart healthy, you can call the Heart Foundation Helpline on

13 11 12.

To find out what you can do to keep your heart healthy for longer and learn about how your heart works, check out My Amazing Body’s The Heart episode.

During this episode, you’ll hear more from Dr Starmer as he shares interesting facts about our heart – the engine of the body.

For example, did you know your heart is about the size of your fist, babies are almost always born with a hole in their heart and heart attack symptoms can differ between men and women? You’ll also learn what takotsubo or octopus pot is and how it relates to your heart.

My Amazing Body is now in its second season and has had more than 228,000 listens. The podcast shares interesting facts about the human body through interviews with medical experts and stories from real Queenslanders.

Executive Director of Strategic Communications Robert Hoge said Queensland Health has been a trusted source throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and My Amazing Body is another way people can learn more about their health through smart, reliable and engaging content.

“We’re sharing some of the insights of the world-class clinicians we have working here to build health literacy and help make Queensland a healthier place,” Mr Hoge said.

Listen to My Amazing Body on the Queensland Health website or subscribe using your favourite podcast app


Media contact: 3708 5376

Last updated: 23 December 2020