Pacific Island and Maori people living in crowded houses are more likely to suffer chronic rheumatic heart disease than Europeans, research shows.
Otago University researcher Richard Jaine says rheumatic heart disease rates in the Pacific population are 40 times greater than among Europeans and twice as high among Maori.
Dr Jaine says the evidence shows disease rates are 90% higher in areas where people live in overcrowded houses.
He says the incidence is not related to low income because poor Europeans have lower rates of rheumatic heart disease than Pacific Islanders and Maori.
Dr Jaine says the incidence of the disease could be reduced by up to 60% by a well-resourced treatment programme for strep throat which often proceeds the infection.