The Fono

Health & Social Services

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Heart Disease / Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease does not discriminate - young, old, fit, unfit, men, women – it can affect anybody, anytime. It is still the leading cause of death in New Zealand, accounting for more than 30% of lives lost annually. More than one Kiwi dies from heart disease every 90 minutes and many of these deaths are premature and preventable.

The Fono actively promotes heart-health awareness within our communities – a large proportion of which is Pacific and Maori, who bear a disproportionate burden of the disease.

Heart disease can strike when you least expect it.How much you move, what you eat and whether you smoke are important factors that influence your risk of heart disease.

Currently, one in six New Zealander’s older than 15 smoke and almost half of adults are not physically active for more than 30 minutes per day. Alarmingly, about one million adults are now obese in NZ, with many of our diets consisting of processed, high fat, high sugar foods and lacking fresh fruit and vegetables.

The World Health Organisation states that globally, heart disease is often thought to be a 'male' problem but it is the number one killer of women. Nearly two-thirds of the deaths from heart attacks in women occur among those who have no history of chest pain, and women who smoke cigarettes are three times as likely to have a heart attack as women who don’t smoke.

Heart and diabetes check

A ‘heart and diabetes check’ is a health check where you and your doctor or nurse identify your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or developing diabetes over the next 5 years. Risks are things such as age, family history, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and being physically inactive. Some of these risk factors can't be changed, but there are others that you can decide to change.

In the past, your doctor may have treated each one of these things separately. A heart and diabetes check looks at all the risk factors together, a bit like putting all the pieces of a puzzle together so you can see the whole picture.

The result of a heart and diabetes check is like looking at the whole picture (estimated risk), rather than each piece (individual risk factor) of the puzzle on its own. You will then find out your estimated risk, which describes how much at risk you are of having a heart attack, stroke or developing diabetes over the next five years.

Cholesterol management

Although the body needs a certain amount of cholesterol, when there is more cholesterol circulating in the blood than the body needs the cholesterol can build up on the artery walls. This eventually leads to narrowing and hardening of the arteries, a process called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. This risk is increased when other risk factors such as high blood pressure and a family history of heart disease are also present.

What can I do to improve my heart health?

With awareness and some healthy lifestyle changes, the risk of heart disease can be reduced. The Fono offers a range of services promoting healthy lifestyles and good heart health.

You can improve your heart health by adopting a heart healthy diet, increasing your physical activity, maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing your alcohol intake.

Your Doctor at The Fono can check the health of your heart and test your cholesterol levels. They can recommend changes to your lifestyle to help improve the health of your heart, and prescribe medicine when appropriate to lower your blood pressure or reduce your cholesterol levels.

Find out more

Healthy eating

Exercise

High Blood Pressure Management

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