Leading Auckland health researcher Prof Valery Feigin
says 90% of New Zealand's annual stroke death toll could
ultimately be prevented, despite the country's ''very
alarming'' obesity problems.
About 2500 people die from stroke in this country each year,
and stroke is also the leading cause of adult disability.
Prof Feigin, a professor of epidemiology and neurology, and
director of the National Institute for Stroke and Applied
Neurosciences, at AUT University, Auckland, gave a public
talk in Dunedin this week on aspects of ''acquired brain
Prof Feigin was co-author of a recent major study published
in the Lancet, which reported that New Zealand's rates of
adult and child obesity were higher than those of Australia.
He also recently said that being overweight was ''a
well-established risk factor for stroke, heart attack,
dementia and cancer'', New Zealand's four major causes of
death and disability.
More action was needed to counter an obesity epidemic and it
was ''very alarming'' that New Zealand had the highest rates
of adult and child obesity in the region, he said.
Prof Feigin said in an interview he remained an optimist.
Most strokes were ''highly preventable'' and 90% of such
deaths could be avoided, he said.
Individuals could do more to reduce their stroke risk, both
by clarifying their level of risk, with medical help, and
also through exercising more and improving diet.
Walking for half an hour a day significantly improved
cardiovascular health, and people could also reduce their
stroke risk by cutting their intake of salt by about 2g a
Action by the food industry and by government was needed to
reduce salt levels, because most of the excess salt New
Zealanders consumed was in processed foods, he said.
Prof Feigin's talk was part of a two-day conference,
organised by the University of Otago Brain Health Research