Urgent call for a co-ordinated national heart health action plan

The Heart Foundation says there is an urgent need for a national action plan for heart health and is calling for cross-party support for Government to develop one.

Including hypertension, almost one million Kiwis are living with cardiovascular disease and it is the leading cause of death and disability in New Zealand.

"We urgently need a co-ordinated national action plan to improve heart health outcomes and address systemic barriers and inequities," says Heart Foundation Medical Director, Dr Gerry Devlin.

Ten thousand New Zealanders die from cardiovascular disease each year, and almost one in four of these deaths could be avoided with effective strategies for prevention, diagnosis and timely treatment and care.

Access to healthcare is not equal. The most at-risk populations, especially Māori, Pacific and low-income New Zealanders, are still the least likely to access health care when it matters the most. Māori and Pacific people are 1.3 times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, and four times more likely to die of heart disease before the age of 65 than non-Māori. And those with severe mental illness are up to three times more likely to die from heart disease.

A Heart Foundation White Paper 'Improving heart health outcomes for New Zealand' is being launched at Parliament on Tuesday 4 August and recommends five key areas that can reduce the burden of heart disease and improve inequities in healthcare.

These include, prevention, early detection and management, timely access to effective care and support, improvements in survival rates for heart events and creating a more transparent and accountable health system.

In support of the launch, Heart Foundation staff will be at Parliament providing heart health checks for MPs, parliamentary staff and others.

Download the White Paper