Heart disease rates halve in a decade thanks to statins and stop-smoking campaigns

Sarah Jones
Wednesday 05 June 2019 10:59 BST
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Heart disease rates in the UK have nearly halved over the course of a decade, a new study has found.

While coronary heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Britain, the number of people dying from the condition fell from 80 per 100,000 in 2005 to 46 per 100,000 in 2015.

Researchers from Imperial College have attributed the drop to the increasing number of people being offered statins to lower their cholesterol and successful stop smoking campaigns.

However, they have warned that although the figures are promising, factors such as obesity and diabetes are keeping the death toll too high.

Dr Alexandra Nowbar, Imperial’s National Heart and Lung Institute said: “Much of the decline in heart disease deaths may be due to a fall in the number of people who smoke.

“We’ve seen a significant drop in smoking rates in recent years which has been good news for our hearts.”

He continued: “However, obesity, blood pressure and rates of type 2 diabetes are on the rise, and if we don’t keep tabs on these – and encourage people to follow healthy lifestyles, we could see the trend of falling heart disease deaths reverse in the future.”

According to the NHS, coronary heart disease occurs when your heart's blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.

Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis and the fatty deposits are called atheroma.

The main symptoms of coronary heart disease are angina (chest pain), heart attacks and heart failure.

However, not everyone has the same symptoms and some people may not have any before CHD is diagnosed.

The team of researchers also compared Britain’s heart disease rates to other countries and found that Japan and France had the lowest rates at 20 deaths per 100,000.

Italy, Norway and Spain also had lower rates than Britain but the UK performed better than Germany, Poland or Russia with 55, 55 and 220 deaths per 100,000 people respectively.

Nowbar added: “This analysis shows the number of heart disease deaths in Eastern Europe are 20 times higher than in higher income nations.

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“This suggests the economy of a nation is a major contributor to heart disease risk – and that citizens of poorer countries may have less access to healthcare and public health interventions, which means heart disease deaths remain high.”

The research was published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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