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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the collective term for diseases of the heart and blood vessels. CVD kills more than one in three New Zealanders, and is responsible for more than 30,000 hospital admissions each year.

Men's death rate from CVD is more than twice that of women's. Over 80% of deaths related to CVD occur in people over 65 years.

Common forms of CVD


Angina is chest discomfort or pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. It is usually caused by atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque in the walls of your arteries making your heart work harder.

Heart attack (myocardial infarction)

Blood flow to your heart muscle can sometimes get blocked by a blood clot in one of your coronary arteries. This deprives the heart muscle of blood and oxygen, causing injury to the heart muscle.

Heart failure

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump blood the way it should. In some cases, the heart cannot fill with enough blood. In other cases, the heart can't send blood to the rest of the body with enough force. Some people have both problems.


A stroke is a sudden interruption of blood flow to part of the brain (or when a burst blood vessel bleeds into the brain) causing it to stop working and eventually damaging brain cells. The effects can be devastating and may last a lifetime. A stroke is also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA).

Find out more about CVD conditions and symptoms:

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