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Heart disease rates halve in a decade as statins and stop-smoking campaigns reap huge benefits

This article was taken from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2019/06/04/heart-disease-rates-halve-decade-statins-stop-smoking-campaigns/

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Heart disease rates have halved in a decade as statins and the fall in smoking have hugely reduced the prevalence of the condition.

Although heart disease is still the leading cause of death in Britain, the number of people dying decreased from 80 per 100,000 to 46 per 100,000 between 2005 and 2015, Imperial College found.

Experts said the drop was testament to the strong disease prevention campaigns over the last decade which have seen millions of people offered statins to lower their cholesterol and encouraged to stop smoking.

However researchers said despite the positive figures, obesity and diabetes were still keeping the death toll too high.

Dr Alexandra Nowbar, Imperial’s National Heart and Lung Institute said: “In the UK, the reduction in death rates from heart disease is consistent with lower smoking rates and a rise in statin prescription rates.

“This may be testament to the strong disease prevention campaigns over the last few decades.

“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.”

Heart attack | Symptoms and treatment

A heart attack is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.

Symptoms can include:

  • chest pain – the chest can feel like it is being pressed or squeezed and pain can radiate from the chest to the jaw, neck, arms and back
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling weak and/or light-headed
  • overwhelming feeling of anxiety

Not everyone experiences severe chest pain; the pain can often be mild and mistaken for indigestion. It is the combination of symptoms that is important in determining if a person is having a heart attack, not the severity of chest pain.

Treating heart attack:

  • Dial 999 and ask for an ambulance, if you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack.
  • If the casualty is not allergic to aspirin and it’s easily available, give them a tablet (ideally 300mg) to slowly chew and then swallow while waiting for the ambulance. The aspirin will help to thin the blood and reduce the risk of a heart attack.

Further treatment for a heart attack will depend on how serious it is. Two main treatments are:

  • using medication to dissolve blood clots
  • surgery to help restore blood to the heart

Source: NHS

Heart disease is caused by a reduction in blood supply to the heart muscle when arteries become blocked up by a build-up of fatty substances.

When the blood supply is blocked completely, it causes a heart attack. Heart disease can also cause heart failure, which occurs when the muscle is too damaged to supply adequate oxygen to the body, leaving people struggle to perform everyday tasks.

The team also compared Britain to other countries and found that Japan and France had the lowest rates, with just 20 deaths per 100,000. Italy, Norway and Spain also had lower rates than Britain but the UK performed better than German, Poland or Russia with 55, 55 and 220 deaths per 100,000 people respectively.

The rate of heart disease in the USA was 60 deaths per 100,000 in 2015 – a drop from 90 per 100,000 in 2005.

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

“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, which was published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.