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Heart disease increasing among young, middle-aged

All Health Reporters/Chief Executives/Press Officers

FROM: Dr Don Simmers, NZMA Deputy Chairman

DATE: Thursday, 20 April 2006

SUBJECT: Heart disease increasing among young and middle-aged

Research in the latest New Zealand Medical Journal shows an alarming increase in heart disease death rates among young and middle-aged adults. Two out of every five deaths in New Zealand are caused by cardiovascular disease, and many of them are premature and preventable.

“Urgent action is needed to improve this situation,” says New Zealand Medical Association Deputy Chairman Dr Don Simmers. “The major risk factors are well-known -- obesity, smoking and diabetes. Now we need some high-level action to combat these effectively.

“The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand is promoting a range of recommendations for lowering the cardiovascular death rate, and we urge the Government to consider them carefully.

“The current Health Select Committee Inquiry into Obesity is an example of a good forum for examining many of these issues and taking positive action.“

According to the reports in the 21 April issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal, Maori and the poorest people in New Zealand are dying of heart disease at a much higher rate than non-Maori and more advantaged people. The research shows this gap is expected to widen over the next decade, and the death rates for Maori from heart disease are actually expected to increase.

Death rates from heart disease have fallen dramatically since the 1960s for the general population, but that decrease is now plateauing out.

The editorial and original article from the NZMJ are attached.



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