Heart Disease Death Rate Drops by 45% in 10 Years

Wednesday 26th August 2015

According to scientists, deaths caused by heart disease in the UK have dropped by more than 40% in 10 years.

The reduction deaths related to strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems is said to be caused by healthier lifestyles, better medical practices and large uptake of statin drugs.

Despite the drop, heart disease is still the biggest killer in the UK.

Experts at Oxford University conducted a study that shows a 44.4% drop in the rate of deaths linked to heart problems among men in the UK and a 43.6% drop among women in the 10 years to 2011.

The researchers compared mortality rates linked to heart disease across Europe. They found that the UK has one of the best records on the continent, with 324 deaths as a result of cardiovascular disease per 100,000 men in 2011, and 232 per 100,000 women.

The findings placed Britain fifth on a mortality league table among women and eighth for men. Some nations, including Moldova, Macedonia and Ukraine, see more than 1,000 deaths due to heart disease per 100,000 of the population.

On the whole, cardiovascular disease causes 45% of all European deaths, but only 27% in Britain. The study was led by Dr Nick Townsend and showed that heart disease mainly occurs in old age.

Yet the researchers said that it still causes 1.4 million deaths in those younger than 75 across Europe. It causes almost 700,000 deaths in people under 65. Dr Townsend said that heart disease causes 49% of deaths among women and 41% among men.

Although heart disease deaths are going down on the whole in Europe, the increases we’re experiencing in diabetes and obesity will either contradict the decrease or put an extra burden on health services when it comes to treating people with a high risk of heart disease.

The British Heart Foundation funded the research and medical director Professor Peter Weissberg said that the British have become much better at both preventing and treating heart disease.

He said that the mortality rate has massively improved from an appalling start in the UK. The reason the British Heart Foundation formed was because of the epidemic proportions of this problem in Britain.

Roughly half of the improvement is down to prevention. Methods include a reduction in smoking rates, use of statins to reduce cholesterol levels and better exercise.

The other half is due to an improvement in treatment. This includes use of stents in hospitals, better ambulance response times and clot-busting drugs.

The use of statins by people who have survived heart attack or stroke also reduces the chance of the problem recurring. Professor Weissberg concluded that Britain now has very good preventative medication but the rates of death are still high, so more research is necessary.

Last July, health watchdog NICE changed its advice to encourage GPs to prescribe statins to anyone with a 10% chance of heart disease. The change led to 17 million adults now being eligible to regularly take statins.

Experts welcomed the move and said that prescribing statins to people at risk of stroke or heart disease reduces cholesterol and saves lives.

But many patients and GPs are concerned about over-prescribing statins, as some say this needlessly exposes people to side effects like muscle pain.