Better health care needed for Maori and Pacific people in NZ
A new study shows major ethnic inequalities in the risk of death from heart disease in New Zealand, highlighting much higher rates of death for Maori and Pacific people.
A new study shows major ethnic inequalities in the risk of death from heart diseases in New Zealand highlighting much higher rates of death for Maori and Pacific people.
In comparison to Europeans, the odds of death were about 50 percent higher in Maori and Pacific people and 50 percent lower in Indian people.
Cardiac researcher Corina Grey, says the study could help bring more effective targeting of resources to reduce cardiovascular inequalities in the country.
She spoke to Indira Stewart.
CORINA GREY: We looked at everybody who was either hospitalised with Ischaemic heart disease or who died and then we followed them up for a 28 day period - who were hospitalised. We looked at who died within 28 days and then we looked at differences. So, how many Maori people died, how many Pacific people, how many Indian people and how many non-Maori, non-Pacific people Indian people died. And we found that within 28 days, almost 30 percent of Maori and Pacific people had died compared to only 20 percent of European people and 12 and a half percent of Indian people. So quite marked differences.
INDIRA STEWART: What are some of the risk factors that are more prevalent in Maori and Pacific people that lead to that marked difference in the statistics?
CG: The risk factors that stick out are smoking, more Maori and Pacific people smoke than other people. And also diabetes and you know, lack of physical activity, a high fat diet and also just general unwellness.
IS: Do you think a lot of these health conditions are linked to economic factors as well?
CG: Absolutely, Absolutely. When you don't have the financial resources you'll eat whatever you can afford. Sometimes it can be more expensive to buy the healthier foods. And also, where you live can have an impact. So, we know that areas of high deprivation often have a high density of fast food outlets. And places that are less deprived have better access to fruit and vegetables. And also, if you've got a lot of financial stress in your lives people might find that smoking eases that stress. So, it's a complex issue.
IS: So according to those factors that you just mentioned, if those factors were different in some of the lives of these Maori and Pacific people, many of these deaths could be prevented?
CG: Yeah, absolutely. And so, we do need to concentrate on reducing these risk factors and educating people about the importance of seeking medical attention when they're experiencing unfamiliar symptoms and symptoms that might actually be heralding a heart attack like chest pain. You know those people who were known to have Ischaemic heart disease should have been on preventative therapy. You know, New Zealand guidelines assess that anyone who has a history of Ischaemic heart disease should be on a blood-pressure lowering medication, a lipidome medication and also aspirin and we've done a study before that shows that Maori and Pacific people are less likely to be on those medications.
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