Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for diseases of
the heart and circulatory system and includes ischaemic heart
disease, stroke, rheumatic heart disease, and other forms of
vascular and heart disease. CVD causes around 40% of all
deaths in New Zealand.
There is good evidence that cigarette smoking is associated with
up to three times the risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and
peripheral vascular disease compared to people who do not
smoke. Other important risk factors for CVD are:
- high alcohol intake
- high cholesterol levels
- poor nutrition, and
- a sedentary lifestyle.
Having more than one risk factor compounds the CVD
risk, and can result in a higher risk than simply
combining the associated risks.
Mortality from all cardiovascular diseases is significantly
higher among Māori, Pacific people and those of Indian
descent. A higher proportion of these populations under the
age of 65 die from ischaemic heart disease and they are also
younger on average at the time of first stroke. Heart
failure death rates for Māori between 2000 and 2004 were
over twice the age and sex rates for non-Māori.
Mortality for Pacific peoples are lower than rates for Māori but
higher than other non-Māori. Pacific people also have higher
rates of stroke than any other group.
Mortality rates for coronary heart disease are also higher among
people from lower socioeconomic groups. Improving physical
activity and nutrition, reducing smoking and excess alcohol
consumption, and managing diabetes, high blood cholesterol and high
blood pressure are all important to reducing risk.
Read the full issue summary on cardiovascular