Heart disease deaths fall by a third but treatment still varies

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The number of deaths from heart disease has dropped by a third in a decade, according to a study published yesterday.

The number of deaths from heart disease has dropped by a third in a decade, according to a study published yesterday.

New research revealed that a rapid increase in a wide range of treatments was a key factor in the reduction of heart disease fatalities in the UK.

However, the study, conducted by Professor Keith Fox, a cardiologist at the University of Edinburgh, warned that there remained large gaps in terms of care provision at hospitals across the country.

The four-year study, published in the European Heart Journal, revealed that the death rate among men was reduced from 393 per 100,000 in 1990 to 226 per 100,000 in 2000.

During the same 10-year period, the mortality rate among female sufferers of heart disease was reduced from 145 per 100,000 to 78 per 100,000, according to British Heart Foundation statistics.

While the reduction in death rates from heart attacks had levelled off in Britain in the past two years, the study highlighted discrepancies in the length of time it took hospitals to implement new treatments.

As a result, a patient's chances of surviving a heart attack could depend on where they live and the hospital in which they receive treatment.

The Global Registry of Acute Coronary Events was launched in 1999 to log data on more than 12,000 patients with heart disease in 94 hospitals across 14 developed countries. It concluded that patients suffering from heart attacks or acute angina received different treatment programmes depending on national health priorities and differences between hospitals. The discrepancies came to light despite the creation of international guidelines for the management of acute coronary syndromes.

The study also highlighted how some hospitals adopted new treatments and therapies very quickly, while others took them on board more slowly, despite strong guidelines issued about their effectiveness. "For example, a teaching hospital can offer a high degree of staff expertise, so it can implement new therapies more quickly."

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