Facts about heart disease

Cardiovascular disease (heart, stroke and blood vessel disease) is the leading cause of death in New Zealand.

Some sobering statistics

Heart disease is the single biggest killer of New Zealanders

Every 90 minutes a New Zealander dies from heart disease and cardiovascular disease accounts for 30% of deaths every year. 1

Māori adults are more than twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease than European New Zealanders

And 1.5 times more likely to die from stroke. 2

One in 20 adults has been diagnosed with heart disease.

That's more than 165,000 New Zealand adults.3

Heart disease also has an enormous financial cost.

Cardiovascular disease comprises approximately 11 per cent of the total health budget. 5

For these reasons and many more, cardiovascular disease is one of the world’s most pressing health problems. And it's only going to get worse before it gets better.

Find out more about Women and Heart Disease
Heart Disease in the Māori Community

A gathering storm

While advances in medical research continue to create the potential to increase life expectancy and quality of life... the community at large isn’t playing their part. Increasing rates of obesity and diabetes in the community are creating a virtual tsunami of cardiovascular disease in the years to come.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 17 million people around the world died from cardiovascular disease in 2008, and due to the growing epidemics of diabetes and obesity, this number is expected to surge to 23 million by 2030. This means we have to prepare for a virtual tsunami of cardiovascular disease in the coming 20-30 years.

Risk factors

65% of New Zealand adults (aged 15 or over) are overweight or obese

Two thirds of Pacific Islander people are obese. 4

Diabetes is now one of New Zealand’s fastest growing chronic diseases

7% of Kiwis having diabetes and another 25.5% have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. 5

One in six New Zealanders older than 15 smoke

Smokers have a much higher risk of heart disease than non-smokers and are about four times more likely to die from heart disease than non-smokers. 6

One in three adults do not eat three or more servings of vegetables per day

Two in five adults do not eat two or more servings of fruit per day.7

What can I do... to help ensure a healthier future?

1. Adapt your lifestyle.

Consume a low-fat diet high in fruit and vegetables, moderate your alcohol intake and exercise regularly

2. Break the cycle.

Our children adopt healthy eating habits from a young age. Bring your kids up in an environment where you drink water, eat fresh food and play sport regularly.

3. Support medical research.

The Heart Research Institute is an internationally recognised medical research institute performing groundbreaking cardiovascular research. Established more than 25 years ago, today our work is more relevant than ever.


Ministry of Health (2015) Mortality and Demographic data 2012. Wellington: Ministry of Health
2 Ministry of Health (2010-2012), Ngā mana hauora tūtohu: Maori Health status indicators, Cardiovascular disease. Wellington: Ministry of Health
3,4,6,7 Ministry of Health (2014) NZ Health Survey: Annual update 2013-2014. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
5 Coppell, K.J., Mann, J.I., Williams, S.M., Jo, E.C., Drury, P.L., Miller, J.C., Parnell, W.R. (2013). Prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes and pre-diabetes in New Zealand: findings from the 2008/09 Adult Nutrition Survey. New Zealand Medical Journal 126(1370),23-42.