IT turns out Bathurst really is a city of broken hearts. An analysis of the latest data from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that one-in-eight people who died in the Bathurst Regional Council area from 2012 to 2016 fell victim to heart disease.
There must be a lesson in there for all of us, but elsewhere the figures also make fascinating – if somewhat morbid – reading.
Bathurst also recorded higher-than-national-average figures for deaths by stroke, diabetes, cancer of unknown or ill-defined primary site and liver disease.
Strokes were the second biggest killer in the list with 126 people dying from the condition during the reporting period (8.3 per cent). This was 35 per cent higher than the national mortality rate.
Lung cancer – most commonly associate with smoking – was also one of the top four killers of men, completing a picture of Bathurst as a community that is slowly killing itself.
The question now is, what can we do?
Now we know what is killing us, what can we do about it? More importantly, are we willing to take whatever steps are needed?
The list of top killers for our region really is a list of first-world problems.
They paint a picture of a community that is eating, drinking and smoking too much, and exercising too little.
This should surprise no-one, of course. You would expect most towns and cities across Australia would return similar results.
But knowing what the problem is and doing something about it are two very different things.
We all know we have to find time to better look after ourselves and know we must find time to exercise more.
We also know that the quickest, easiest and (often) cheapest meal options are usually the most fat and sugar-laden, and we all know that we need to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.
Governments have spent millions of dollars in recent years promoting healthy lifestyle choices in a bid to keep people out of hospital, but the message is still not getting through.
In the end, only individuals can make a real difference. No matter how much money governments pour into education campaigns, only individuals can really control what we put in our mouths and how many steps we take each day.
We owe it our family and our hearts to do better.