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Cardio message must be heeded

Cardio message must be heeded

New Zealanders need to lose weight, exercise more and stop smoking if we are to continue to lower our rates of heart disease, says the New Zealand Medical Association.

A study published in the latest issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal describes recent trends in cardiovascular risk factors between 1982 and 2002/2003. Coronary heart disease, other diseases of the heart, and stroke are the leading causes of death in New Zealand.

“It’s good news that death rates from coronary heart disease and stroke have been declining since the 1970s,” said NZMA Chairman Dr Ross Boswell, “However, it’s very worrying that this improvement could be put at risk because of the number of smokers and the increase in obesity.”

The report authors found that the prevalence of obesity had more than doubling over the 21-year period of their study. In 1982, approximately 52.8% of men and 36.5% of women were overweight or obese; whereas in the 2002/3 survey, 70.9% of men and 57.0% of women were in these categories.

It also found that the previous downward trend in cigarette smoking had halted.

The report says cardiovascular disease may increase in the future unless renewed efforts are made to tackle obesity and smoking, in particular.

“We know that smoking and obesity can cause a wide range of diseases, and they are difficult issues for many people to change,” said Dr Boswell. “We need to keep working hard to tackle these problems and support people to make healthy choices. “

ends

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