Raising the standard of cardiovascular care in New Zealand’s aged care sector is the focus of a New Zealand first, joint initiative between Ryman Healthcare, The Heart Foundation of NZ and the Christchurch Heart Institute.

Known as CHAMPIONZ, information from the research will provide a clearer picture about the risk of cardiovascular disease in New Zealand’s aged care sector.

Associate Professor Chris Pemberton of the Christchurch Heart Institute, who leads the study, said the residents, the aged care sector, Ministry of Health, general practitioners and the primary health sector in general, will benefit from the findings.

“As our population ages, the retirement lifestyle and care sector is growing at an ever increasing rate. We don’t have a very good handle on what the cardiovascular health of the sector as a whole is like, and how this relates to our aging population in general. Our goal from CHAMPIONZ is to provide an accurate representation of this important area. This is with a view to helping inform policy surrounding the ongoing cardiovascular needs for retirement village and health providers, at all levels of care.”

The Christchurch Heart Institute, has started collecting medical data from residents of Ryman’s retirement villages in Christchurch. The project will gradually roll out to other Ryman villages across the country, with the aim of enrolling more than 1000 participants into the study.

Ryman residents who volunteer to take part in the study, will get increased awareness of their overall health and possible cardiovascular risk and become more empowered to manage that in concert with village healthcare teams and their own GPs.

Ryman Healthcare Chief Executive Gordon MacLeod said it was great to see so many residents helping out.

“We know that there are some big gaps in health research when it comes to older people. We were delighted to be approached to help out, and residents have not only raised the funds for the study, they’re also taking part in what is likely to be an important national study.’’

Funding for the project emerged from a charity partnership between Ryman Healthcare and the Heart Foundation for research into causes of cardiovascular disease.

The Christchurch Heart Institute, a University of Otago research centre, is internationally renowned for their contribution to cardiovascular disease research.  In particular, the discoveries of blood hormones associated with heart disease which have led to specific blood tests for heart issues, now being used routinely in New Zealand clinics and all around the world.

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