Kiwis are being urged to help protect those they love from New Zealand's single biggest killer - heart disease.

The Heart Foundation is appealing for donations during its Big Heart Appeal to put into research to help stop heart disease, which kills more than 6000 people every year in this country.

Heart Foundation Medical Director Gerry Devlin said that deaths from heart disease are on the rise in New Zealand, in line with global increases.

"Most of us have someone we love who is affected by heart disease in some way - it is still our nation's single biggest killer," he said.

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"Part of the solution is more research into heart disease and specialist training for cardiologists. While the Heart Foundation invests more than $3 million into research grants and training every year thanks to our generous donors, we receive many worthwhile funding requests that we are simply unable to support.

"We urgently need more big-hearted Kiwis to donate so we can fund more vital research programmes to save the lives of our loved ones."

Local Heart Foundation Heart Health Advocate Sally Darragh says she sees the impact heart disease has on families in the Horowhenua community every day.

"Many communities are affected by heart disease, both from losing loved ones and supporting people who are living with conditions associated with heart disease," she said.

"In the Horowhenua community the Heart Foundation has run information sessions with MidCentral PHO for people and their families affected by heart disease. The Heart Foundation also runs a support group on the third Monday of the month at Te Takare at 1pm for people and their families affected."

The Heart Foundation is New Zealand's leading independent funder of heart research. Since 1970, it has invested more than $60 million in research and specialist training. It also offers a wide range of activities to help support people with heart disease, plus educational programmes and campaigns that promote heart-healthy living.

The organisation's Big Heart Appeal runs throughout the month of February culminating in a nationwide street collection on Friday 23 February and Saturday 24 February.

Collectors are still being sought by the Manawatu/MidCentral branch to hit the streets of the Horowhenua and Otaki regions, Ms Darragh said.

"It is sobering to think that during the short period of time that a volunteer will be out collecting donations, at least one New Zealander will have died of heart disease."

Mr Devlin said the charity needed local level support.

"We really need the support of New Zealanders in their local communities so we can make more life-saving research into heart disease possible," he said.

"We need many thousands of collectors nationwide to help us raise funds [which] will be used to support heart-related research and specialist training for cardiologists who work in our communities throughout New Zealand."

If you can help out as a street collector on Friday 23 or Saturday 24 February, visit heartfoundation.org.nz/volunteer or contact Sally Darragh on (06) 358-7745 or email sallyd@heartfoundation.org.nz

You can also donate by calling 0800 830 100 or online at heartfoundation.org.nz/donate

COLLECTING for the Heart Foundation, Horowhenua volunteer coordinator Kathryn Edwards (left) and Heart Health Advocate Sally Darragh.
COLLECTING for the Heart Foundation, Horowhenua volunteer coordinator Kathryn Edwards (left) and Heart Health Advocate Sally Darragh.