Heart disease is the single biggest killer of men and women in New Zealand, and the Heart Foundation is calling for people in Taranaki to show their big heart by volunteering as a street collector for its Big Heart Appeal next month.

"While the Heart Foundation is committed to tackling heart disease in New Zealand, we can't do it alone. Our volunteers around the country make a huge difference in our ability to help," says Heart Foundation Medical Director Gerry Devlin.

Every 90 minutes, one New Zealander dies of heart disease and the Heart Foundation's vital work funds research to save lives and improve the quality of life for the 180,000 New Zealanders living with heart disease.

"Since the Heart Foundation was founded 52 years ago, we've seen a phenomenal reduction in death from heart disease but there's still a lot that needs to be done. Not only does heart disease remain our single biggest killer but we have more people living with heart disease than ever before all throughout New Zealand.

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Gerry says that a few hours of a volunteer's time on the day is huge and plays a vital role in the fight against heart disease.

"We are calling on big-hearted Kiwis all around New Zealand to volunteer a few hours of their time to help collect funds to support our vital research and work in the community," says Gerry.

"Last years' volunteers said being a street collector is a fun, fulfilling and a fabulous opportunity to make a difference and change lives."

He says funds raised during the Heart Foundation's annual appeal are used to support life-saving heart research and specialist training for cardiologists.

The Heart Foundation is New Zealand's leading independent funder of heart research. Since 1968, it has funded more than $74 million in research and specialist training.

"We also perform a wide range of activities to help support people living with heart disease and their families and provide educational programmes and campaigns that promote heart-healthy living."

Visit heartfoundation.org.nz or call 0800 BIG HEART (0800 244 432) to sign up for the Big Heart Appeal street collection.

You can make a donation by calling the Heart Foundation on 0800 830 100 or online.

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Street collectors are needed to help on Friday February 21 and Saturday February 22.

Heart diseases - the facts:

Heart disease is New Zealand's single biggest killer, claiming the lives of more than 6300 New Zealanders every year – that's one person every 90 minutes.

More than 180,000 New Zealander's are currently living with heart disease.

The Heart Foundation funds cutting-edge research and specialist training for cardiologists, while its education and prevention programmes address heart disease head-on in the community.

The Heart Foundation is New Zealand's heart charity that is leading the fight against heart disease.

As a charity it relies heavily on the generosity of everyday Kiwis to support its life-saving work.