Media Release: 13 May 2013

Nearly 28,000 people in Wellington, Porirua and Kapiti are the target of a campaign by primary health organisation, Compass Health, to have their heart checked.

“About 40,000 people had their heart checked last year, but we still have a large group of people that we would like to come forward, contact their local medical practice and get their heart checked,” Compass Health PHO spokesperson and Brooklyn GP Lynn McBain says.

The quick and painless heart check will let people know what their risk is of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five year. For those targeted, the check will be done for no charge by a practice nurse, Dr McBain says.

“The campaign is pretty simple. We want more people to have their heart checked, to get some information on their risk as well as some advice on strategies they can use to improve their heart health.”

She says heart disease (or cardiovascular disease) is the leading cause of death in New Zealand, accounting for 40% of deaths per annum. “One New Zealander dies every 90 minutes from heart disease. That is 16 people a day and many of these deaths are premature and preventable.

“We’ve learnt that by identifying people who are at higher risk and having their doctor prescribing suitable medicines and giving them advice on what they can do to improve their own health will reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes and the consequences of those on partners, family and the community.”

Compass Health PHO, which supports 59 medical practices in Wellington city, Porirua and Kapiti, is investing considerable resources in the campaign, by funding and supporting the practices to undertake the heart checks.

The heart checks are funded for those eligible – specifically Māori, Pacific and Indo-Asian men aged over 35 and women over 45, and European men aged over 45 and women over 55 who have not had their cardiovascular risk assessed in the past five years.

Nearly 28,000 people are eligible and due for the funded check, and the PHO hopes a good proportion of those will have their heart checked during the two-month campaign.

“Ultimately we want people to think that it’s important to get their heart checked every five years, just like it’s important that their car’s roadworthiness is checked regularly – whether they think something is wrong or not,” Dr McBain says.