HEART WORKSHOPS: Chief author of Health and Disease in the Aboriginal Community, Associate Professor Michael Douglas, with Northern NSW Local Health District chronic care officer, Anthony Franks, senior Aboriginal health education officer, Teena Binge, and Bundjalung community representative, Mick Roberts, at the Caring and Sharing Ideas about Aboriginal Health in Lismore in 2013.
HEART WORKSHOPS: Chief author of Health and Disease in the Aboriginal Community, Associate Professor Michael Douglas, with Northern NSW Local Health District chronic care officer, Anthony Franks, senior Aboriginal health education officer, Teena Binge, and Bundjalung community representative, Mick Roberts, at the Caring and Sharing Ideas about Aboriginal Health in Lismore in 2013. Dominic Feain

Getting to the heart of the problem

ABORIGINAL and Torres Strait Islander men are 19 times more likely to die from chronic rheumatic heart disease, so a series of workshops in Ballina and Grafton will be held to raise awareness of the risk factors for heart disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

It's all part of a program across Northern NSW for Men's Health Week which will run from June 12-19.

The workshops will provide a comfortable environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to learn and ask questions about ways to reduce their chances of experiencing heart disease.

Aboriginal Chronic Care Officer with Northern NSW Local Health District, Anthony Franks said heart disease was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who experience and die from cardiovascular disease at much higher rates than other Australians.

Mr Franks said when compared with other Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 1.3 times as likely to have cardiovascular disease, three times more likely to have a major coronary event, such as a heart attack and more than twice as likely to die in hospital from coronary heart disease.

They were also 19 times as likely to die from acute rheumatic fever and chronic rheumatic heart disease.

"The idea of these workshops is to raise awareness around the different signs and symptoms of heart disease, and also around prevention and management of the disease,” Mr Franks said,

"This is a new, collaborative approach to addressing this issue, working together with existing avenues such as healthy lifestyle and exercise programs to assist participants to make the most of what they'll be learning.”

At the workshops men will learn about the importance of heart health checks, stress reduction, quitting smoking and healthy eating from community health practitioners, hospital cardiac nurses, and other health practitioners in a culturally safe environment.

The workshops are a collaboration between the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD), local Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS), North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN), Solid Mob, Get Healthy and Tweed Heads On Track.