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Our hearts beat on average 72 times every minute. Each minute, vital materials are circulated in our blood and waste products are removed. Each minute counts in helping our body function.

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to all the diseases of the heart and circulation, including coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation, heart attack, congenital heart disease and stroke.

The primary cause of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis – the narrowing and eventual blockage of arteries by the deposition of fatty plaques on the walls of the artery. Eventually these plaques can rupture – thrombosis – and the resultant blood clot deprives vital tissues of oxygen. If this happens in the major blood vessels supplying the heart, you have a heart attack. In the brain, you have a stroke.


By understanding the causes of atherosclerosis (diabetes, cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure and family history) we can better improve human health.

Cardiovascular disease is New Zealand's
number 1 killer

Much of the burden caused by cardiovascular disease is preventable. The major modifiable risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insufficient physical activity, obesity, diabetes, poor nutrition, and excessive intake of alcohol. Other risk factors that are beyond our control include age, gender, family history and ethnicity.

Have a look through our health pages for some simple steps you can take to help decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and take care of your overall wellbeing.

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