Aim: To describe the prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in New Zealand by ethnicity and socioeconomic status using NHI-linked electronic national databases.
Method: CVD prevalence by ethnicity and socioeconomic status in New Zealand in 2006/07 were estimated from national datasets of public hospital discharges, mortality registrations, and pharmaceutical dispensing over the period 1988-2007.
Results: In 2007, Maori had the highest age-standardised prevalence (7.41%) compared to non-Maori, non-Pacific, and non-Indians (4.45%). Maori males and females had the highest age-specific prevalence of CVD across virtually all age groups. There was a clear gradient of increasing CVD prevalence with increasing level of social deprivation. The corresponding age-specific CVD prevalence among the least deprived quintile of Maori were similar to the most deprived quintile of 'Other' New Zealanders.
Conclusion: Consistent with mortality trends, this study confirms marked ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in CVD prevalence that are (at least in part) independent of each other. Aggressive targeting of CVD risk management among these relatively easily identifiable high-risk patient groups with known CVD could be a highly cost-effective way of reducing health disparities in the short term.