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There is a major disparity between Māori and non-Māori in cardiovascular mortality, and currently the available data on cardiovascular disease in Māori has mostly been obtained from mortality (death rates) or hospital statistics.

There are few studies of the prevalence and incidence of cardiovascular disease in the community.

This research aims to collect data on the current levels of established heart disease, levels of previously undiagnosed diabetes, cardiovascular disease and their risk factors in randomly-selected population samples from two diverse Māori communities, Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairoa in Hawkes Bay, and Mana Whenua ki Waitaha in Canterbury, as well as a non-Māori control group in Canterbury.

The project will also identify objective markers (biochemical and cardiac imaging) for monitoring cardiovascular disease risk in Maori.

We will document the implementation of treatment programmes, interventions, barriers to care and outcomes for study participants.

Evidence suggests there will be significant patient benefits from early screening of Māori, leading to early detection, and management of risk factors in those at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

The collaborating groups

MIHI has had extensive experience in researching within Maori communities and in providing research that assists us in understanding Maori health and strategies that promote Maori health gain. Suzanne Pitama (nee Meihana) is from Nuhaka (a Wairoa College graduate) and Matea Gillies connects to Rapaki.

The Christchurch Heart Institute has established an international reputation for their work identifying early markers of heart disease, and showing that early treatment substantially reduces mortality and hospital admissions. The Group presented a comprehensive seminar highlighting their skills in working with cardiovascular health and risk within communities. MIHI then engaged with this group to look at the potential of doing a combined research project that would utilize their extensive clinical skills to benefit Maori communities. Due to Suzanne and Matea's extensive personal family experiences with the illness we identified our own communities as potential sites for the research project.

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