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Go Red For Women Patron Warns Of Need For Action

Go Red For Women Patron Warns Of Need For Action

Former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley is giving her strong support to the Heart Foundation's Go Red for Women campaign to highlight chronic heart disease death rates amongst women – figures that equate to seven deaths a day.

The nationwide campaign is the Heart Foundation's response to alarming research findings that show 74 per cent of New Zealand women do not realise heart disease is their leading cause of death.

As Patron of the Go Red for Women campaign, Jenny Shipley says that all New Zealand women need to take note of the serious risk of heart disease, and take action to prevent themselves from becoming a heart disease statistic.

"Unfortunately there seems to be little knowledge of just how prolific a killer heart disease is," says Jenny Shipley.

"A key part of my role as the Go Red for Women Patron is to encourage women to get to know much more about what a major danger heart disease is to them. I'm honoured the Heart Foundation has asked me to Patron of this awareness programme because of what it represents and the change we hope to make to the lives of NZ women.

"It is a big issue for women but they often don't have the awareness or confidence to talk about it to their health advisors – so this is about a fair deal for women and it's a critical challenge that needs addressing."

Like many thousands of New Zealand women, Jenny Shipley's life has been affected by heart disease.

Her father died from heart disease at the age of 52, and she herself suffered a heart attack in 2000, which she was fortunate to fully recover from.

"The experience was an enormous wake up call and reminded me again that it was my responsibility to try and mitigate the risks, particularly the inherited risks that I face in terms of heart disease," she says.

"I certainly did make some life changes at the time and those have assisted me in maintaining good health since that experience in 2000."

The research findings show a clear majority of women (60 per cent) mistakenly believe breast cancer is their leading cause of death. In reality, women are four times more likely to die of heart disease.

Jenny Shipley introduced the breast cancer screening programme to New Zealand in the 1990s and has seen the progress it has made in saving the lives of NZ women.

But she says heart disease risk to women is four times greater and it is now urgent that we make progress in arresting the impact of this killer disease on NZ women.

"As with breast cancer, women need to take ownership of the disease risk and take a preventative approach. I want every New Zealand woman over the age of 45 to have a thorough discussion about their heart health with their GP or practice nurse, get to know their numbers, take their health advisors advice and to make life changes if necessary," she says.

However, Jenny Shipley warns that it can be hard work and women will also need the support of their friends and family, particularly with making behavioural adjustments to diet and exercise routines.

"After my heart attack I made some sweeping changes to my lifestyle in an effort to reduce my risk of future heart events. The research shows a dire need for many New Zealand women to make their own decisions in favour of their heart health and I want to encourage other women to view this as a positive lifestyle opportunity."


As part of a global initiative by the World Heart Federation, and with support from the Go Red For Women campaign's major sponsor Jennian Homes, the Heart Foundation aims to increase awareness of heart disease in women, encourage all women to look after their hearts, and reduce the severity of these alarming statistics.

For further information or to arrange an interview with Mrs Shipley or Heart Foundation Medical Director Professor Norman Sharpe please contact:

5 ways to look after your heart:

• Have a heart health check: take the Heart Foundation's online risk quiz at to see if you need to visit your practice nurse or GP for a heart health check

• Get to know your numbers: find out your cholesterol level, blood pressure and waist circumference

• Quit smoking: it is the single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease

• Heart healthy eating: enjoy a variety of foods from the heart healthy food groups

• Be active everyday: regular, moderate physical activity is good for the heart. The Heart Foundation recommends that you include at least 30 minutes or more on most, or all days of the week

The Heart Foundation is grateful for the support of Jennian Homes - Major Sponsor of the Go Red for Women campaign


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