A NATIONAL Heart Foundation study has revealed regional Australians have a much higher risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease compared with their city counterparts.
The study, the first geographically based snapshot of cardiovascular disease and stroke undertaken, mapped the country's population against the number of cases.
The findings reveal one in four people living in regional and rural areas suffers from the disease compared to one in five for those living in metropolitan areas.
Heart Foundation's National CEO Mary Barry said on Thursday regional Australians were 26% more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease.
"We know people living in regional areas have a greater risk of heart disease because they are more likely to be physically inactive, daily smokers and overweight or obese, than those living in major cities," she said.
"Country people are also often disadvantaged by difficulty in accessing medical services such as getting a heart health check and managing cardiovascular disease.
"Once you have it, it is more difficult.
"The reality is, if cardiovascular disease rates for Australians living outside capital cities were identical to that of their city cousins, 350,000 fewer adults would have cardiovascular disease."
National Stroke Foundation CEO Dr Erin Lalor said the report's findings further highlighted the urgent need for national action to tackle stroke across our community.
"The burden of stroke is significant in all parts of the country and it cannot be ignored," he said.
"Every ten minutes someone in Australia will suffer a stroke.
"Close to 12,000 people will die in 2014 from stroke and two-thirds of those that survive will be disabled."
Cardiovascular disease is Australia's biggest killer.