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Heart Foundation visits Parliament

The Heart Foundation visited Parliament on Tuesday 19 March to provide free heart checks for MPs and their parliamentary staff.

Heart foundation representatives visiting parliament.

Chief Executive Clive Nelson and Medical Director Dr Gerry Devlin accompanied Heart Foundation nurses and Heart Health Advocates at the Beehive in Wellington.

The team on the ground took over 100 blood pressure readings, helping MPs to understand their risks, and providing tips and information for managing heart health.

Minister of Health Dr Shane Reti, also a qualified GP, was one of many MPs who participated in the event.

“Heart disease is a priority for health, and I was pleased to be part of this important event to raise awareness and improve the lives of New Zealanders living with heart disease,” Dr Reti said, ahead of having his blood pressure taken.

The Minister, who recently announced his five health targets, which included shorter wait times to see specialists, said New Zealanders living with heart disease would benefit from the Government’s overall health initiatives.

Heart Foundation Medical Director Dr Gerry Devlin said the event helped highlight that high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and managing it will have a significant impact on the heart health of New Zealanders.

Dr Devlin said he looked forward to working with Dr Reti to drive better heart health outcomes for all New Zealanders.

“There are huge and avoidable disparities in heart health outcomes in New Zealand,” says Dr Devlin. “Māori, Pacific people and those living in the most deprived parts of the country are more likely to be exposed to risk factors such as smoking and to face multiple barriers to accessing care including cost, transport and cultural disconnect.”

The heart health checks are part of the Heart Foundation’s call for a national heart health action plan. This has high-level goals to reduce the rate of avoidable heart disease mortality and morbidity for all New Zealanders by at least 50% by 2050; and by 2040 for Māori and Pacific people.

Among the other MPs to have their blood pressure checked and help raise awareness of heart health were Associate Minister of Health Hon David Seymour, Tom Rutherford, Steve Abel, Cushla Tangaere-Manuel, Hon Louise Upston, Hon Simeon Brown, Dan Bidois, Andy Foster, and Celia Wade-Brown.

Last year, the Heart Foundation called for a national heart health action plan to address the avoidable heart health crisis we see coming. After decades of decline in the rate of heart disease deaths, it is now slowing, and we are seeing it starting to increase again.

Healthy hearts, healthy nation – priorities for a national heart health action plan can be accessed here.