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Western Bay Maori Men At High Cardiovascular Risk

News Release
For Immediate Release
July 18, 2006

Western Bay Maori Men At High Risk Of Death From Cardiovascular Disease

The Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation has this week launched a new project aimed at reducing the number of Maori men dying early of cardiovascular related diseases.

Maori people are more likely to die 25 years earlier than their non-Maori counterparts, largely due to high rates of cardiovascular disease.

Statistics show Maori are more likely to die between the ages of 45 and 64 years, while non-Maori will most likely die between 75-84 years of age.

Western Bay Primary Health Organisation (PHO) general manager Roger Taylor says cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among Maori and is contributing more and more to premature deaths.

In the Bay of Plenty cardiovascular disease is the overall leading cause of death (41%) and hospitalisation (13%).

Under the new 'Cardio Check' programme, up to 900 Maori men aged between 35-45 will get free cardiovascular risk assessment checks and help on how best to reduce their risk.

Cardiovascular diseases are diseases affecting the heart and circulatory system, including heart attacks, stroke, angina and poor blood circulation. Diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular problems.

"We know that cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death to Maori, with cancer a close second. We hope the Cardio Check programme will help to reduce the number of men dying prematurely in their forties and fifties," Taylor says.

All Cardio Check participants will be given a cardiovascular risk assessment by their doctor, which will involve medical information gathering and fasting lipids blood screening and possibly diabetes screening. The assessment results will give the men a percentage of how likely they are to experience a 'cardio event' in the next five years.

Taylor says once the men know how at risk they are, they will be given help and options to plan an intervention programme which will reduce that cardiovascular risk.

"We want to empower people by providing them with information to help make healthy choices to minimise their cardiovascular risk. All participants will be involved in discussion and decision making about their health and will get general lifestyle advice on a healthy cardio protective dietary pattern, physical activity and help to stop smoking if necessary."

The PHO will work with Sport Bay of Plenty, Ngaiterangi and Ngati Ranginui Iwi health providers, hauora health providers, nutritionists and dieticians, Mount Fitness Centre and an Eat for Keeps Programme and the Heart Foundation to deliver the intervention programmes.

The programme will be implemented in three stages. Stage one will involve community awareness raising of the benefits of living health lifestyles and the engagement and enrolment of the 900 Maori male participants. Stage two will be the assessment and blood screening stage, to determine each participants level of risk of heart disease. Stage three will involve a variety of lifestyle intervention programmes that vary in intensity and are tailored to the cardio health and fitness needs and capability of each participant.

Taylor says the Cardio Check programme is a huge undertaking and will require the co-ordinated efforts of a multidisciplinary team of health providers. The PHO will coordinate the 12–18 month programme along with skilled, experienced personnel such as newly appointed lifestyle facilitator – Delwyn Howe–Bennett and a Cardio Check health promoter.

The lifestyle facilitator will receive referrals from GP Practices and refer them on to the most appropriate interventions programme.

"The biggest challenge will be getting the men to engage or participate in the programme and secondly to keep them committed for the 12 months at least. It is anticipated that a year is sufficient time for a well supported lifestyle change programme to make a real difference in an individual's physical, mental, spiritual and social wellbeing.

"Monitoring the outcomes of the interventions programme will be crucial to the success of the programme."

Taylor says another major message of the Cardio Check campaign is to make people aware that diabetes is a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease.

"Most people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease and the scary thing is that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the next 20 years is expected to increase from 115,000 to over 160, 000."

Other risk factors for cardiovascular disease include age, sex, personal history of cardiovascular disease, smoking, blood pressure, lipids, obesity, physical inactivity, atrial fibrillation, a family history of coronary heath disease and socio-economic problems.

ENDS

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