$2 million to tackle heart health inequities

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The Heart Foundation and the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge have joined forces to tackle inequities in health outcomes from cardiovascular disease (CVD) among Māori and Pacific people.

A $2 million research grant has been awarded to a team led by Dr Corina Grey and Associate Professor Matire Harwood (pictured above).

The three-year study is the first major programme of its kind in New Zealand. It aims to improve access to healthcare for Māori and Pacific people, which has the potential to achieve equity in heart health outcomes for all New Zealanders. The research involves finding out what barriers people face in accessing healthcare and coming up with a plan to reduce them.

Available approaches to prevention and treatment have the potential to halve the risk of heart disease but Māori and Pacific people are less likely to receive treatment and more likely to suffer from and die of heart disease than other New Zealanders. On average, Māori and Pacific people’s lives are seven years shorter than other New Zealanders. Barriers to accessing healthcare are considered to be important contributors to this.

The researchers will explore how the risk of heart disease is assessed and managed, and what can be done to reduce delays and improve access to hospital care and post-hospital management of heart disease. They will then develop a roadmap for health policy makers and providers, which could alter the way healthcare is delivered across primary and secondary care.

The research team will use kaupapa Māori and Pacific research methodologies for the study’s design, methods and analysis.

Dr Corina Grey and A/Prof Matire Harwood

Dr Corina Grey and A/Prof Matire Harwood

Dr Corina Grey, from the University of Auckland, will co-lead the team of researchers. “This is a total dream project. We’ve got an amazing team and it’s what we’ve been working towards for such a long time,” she says.

Co-leader Associate Professor Matire Harwood says, “We’re bringing together an excellent team with different expertise, from GPs to epidemiologists, who have all done a ton of work looking at equity and heart disease. We have the experience and it’s now time to use that to inform health policy makers and services in New Zealand.”

Healthier Lives Director Professor Jim Mann says, “Healthier Lives is delighted to be partnering with the Heart Foundation in this joint venture which will help to realise our vision of Aotearoa New Zealand with equitable health outcomes and a substantially reduced burden of cardiovascular diseases.”

“This is an important programme of work from a group of experienced researchers, led by Dr Corina Grey, a current Heart Foundation Fellow. We look forward to following the research and its impact on improving equity in heart health in Aotearoa,“ says Gerry Devlin, Medical Director of the Heart Foundation.

 

For more information contact:

Fleur Templeton, Knowledge Exchange Manager fleur.templeton@otago.ac.nz

 

Featured news:

 

About Dr Corina Grey:

  • Dr Grey is a public health doctor and leading researcher in Pacific and heart health.
  • She holds positions at the Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (University of Auckland) and in Planning and Funding at Waitematā and Auckland DHBs.
  • Dr Grey is of Samoan heritage.

 

About Associate Professor Matire Harwood:

  • Associate Professor Harwood is a leading Māori health researcher with over 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications. She has led numerous research projects into the inequities between indigenous and non-indigenous people.
  • She is a practising General Practitioner and holds a position at the Department of General Practice, University of Auckland.
  • Dr Harwood is from Ngāpuhi with whakapapa connections to Ngāti Rangi, Te Mahurehure and Ngāti Hine.

 

Māori and Pacific Statistics:

  • 37% of Māori and 39% of Pacific CVD deaths happen before the age of 65, compared to one in 10 for non-Māori, non-Pacific.
  • Heart disease is a disease of middle age for Māori and Pacific People.
    More than 22,000 Māori and more than 7,000 Pacific people are living with heart disease.
  • 1,013 Māori deaths in 2016 from CVD. 60% of these were premature (before age 75).
  • 372 Pacific deaths in 2016 from CVD. 60% of these were premature (before age 75).

 

Heart disease at a glance:

  • Heart disease is New Zealand’s single biggest killer, claiming the lives of more than 6,300 New Zealanders every year – that’s one person every 90 minutes.
  • More than 180,000 New Zealanders are currently living with heart disease.

 

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