Estimated prevalence of cardiovascular disease and distribution of cardiovascular risk in New Zealanders: data for healthcare planners, funders, and providers

N Z Med J. 2006 Apr 21;119(1232):U1935.


Aims: New Zealand cardiovascular risk management guidelines advocate targeted risk assessment based primarily on age, gender, and ethnicity--and recommend drug management for people with a 5-year absolute cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk greater than 15%. To inform service planning and healthcare delivery for district health boards and primary healthcare organisations in New Zealand, we have produced population estimates of CVD prevalence and 5-year absolute CVD risk.

Methods: The 1993 Auckland Heart and Health Study provided the data for estimating CVD prevalence and absolute CVD risk distributions using the Framingham CVD risk prediction equation. These estimates were applied to population projections for 2005 based on 2001 New Zealand Census data.

Results: Of the projected 2.09 million people aged over 35 years in New Zealand in 2005, approximately 1.5 million (72%) meet national criteria for formal CVD risk assessment. About 151,000 (7%) are estimated to have suffered a non-fatal heart attack or stroke or have angina. A further 262,000 (13%) are estimated to have a 5-year CVD risk greater than 15% based on New Zealand CVD risk charts. This represents around 1 in 5 adults over the age of 35 years in New Zealand for whom pharmacological interventions are recommended according to the New Zealand CVD risk guidelines for the prevention of new or further CVD events.

Conclusions: The latest published data available on the burden of CVD risk in New Zealand is now over 10 years old and does not include Maori, Pacific, and other non-European ethnic groups. Current data on the risk profile of adult New Zealanders is required for more accurate service planning. However the information reported here provides a reasonable estimate of the magnitude of the task. Although systematic identification and management of CVD risk in New Zealanders with raised CVD risk will be a major undertaking for healthcare services, it has the potential to produce significant health-gains while reducing health disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angina Pectoris / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration*
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Stroke / epidemiology