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Dame Jenny Shipley, Sir Richard Hadlee promote Heart Foundation appeal as numbers with heart disease jump

Former prime minister Dame Jenny Shipley and cricket great Sir Richard Hadlee are among Kiwis featuring in a campaign to help the Heart Foundation fund more life-saving research into heart disease.

Seven Sharp reported the number of people living with heart disease in New Zealand has gone up from 172,000 to 186,000 in just one year.

And surprisingly, it's an increase across nearly all age groups.

So an advertisement has been made to get support for the Heart Foundation's appeal.

It's a cause that's close to the hearts of the people taking part in the ad.

Dame Jenny told the programme she's just 66.

"I must have been 48 when I had my heart attack. So it was just not long after I'd finished being prime minister," she said.

"For weeks I had been going to the doctor and was told I had tennis elbow.

"The Heart Foundation walks with you after you've had an event, but the Heart Foundation raises funds to invest in people," Dame Jenny said.

Sir Richard, 67, said the foundation uses funds "to train cardiologists and gain information, and to save lives basically". 

Radio host Sela Alo, 45, also took part in the ad.

"I'm glad that I'm here to show that it's not an old man, old woman disease, that anyone can get it," he said.

Also among those involved in the ad campaign are Celeste Esera and her six-year-old daughter Ava who are both affected by heart disease.

The Heart Foundation has decided to tackle the problem with an ad campaign. Source: Seven Sharp