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Britain lagging on heart disease - Euro-survey

Thursday September 10th, 2009

Photo of woman exercisingBritain has some of the highest death rates in Europe for heart disease amongst young adults, according to stark new figures reported today.

The findings were released after campaigners warned that British women were frequently fail to take action when hit by a heart attack.

The new research shows death rates for women under 65 in Britain are greater than in Greece and lower only than countries such as Slovakia and Hungary.

Death rates for men of this age group are four times that of women - at 44 out of every 100,000 - and twice the death rate of Dutch men.

Countries such as Iceland, France, Slovenia and Italy have minuscule death rates among women.

The findings from the EuroHeart project are being reported to a major European heart conference in Brussels, Belgium.

Researchers found that high rates of cigarette smoking contribute to the high death rates in countries such as Greece, Estonia and Slovakia. Greece, along with Denmark, also has no national policies for combating heart disease.

Susanne Logstrup, director of the European Heart Network, said: "Although most countries have some sort of prevention targets, the links between these targets and monitoring, public reporting of progress and national evaluation are much less clear.

"Only in about half the participating countries could we identify budgets allocated to policy and programme implementation."

Dr Nata Menabde, of the World Health Organisation, said: "We are observing a difference up to 10 times in death rates from ischaemic heart diseases in men below 65 years of age.

"On the other side of the coin, we see that some countries have been able to put in place successful policies to reduce this burden."

The British department of health said the figures were out of date.

According to a spokesman: "We have met our target to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease by 40 per cent in people under 75 by 2010 five years early."

* A British survey has found that a third of women would not recognise a heart attack because they would expect a crushing heart pain.

This symptom mainly affects men, according to the British Heart Foundation, which launched a new 999 campaign to raise awareness among women.

The BHF said women are most likely to experience symptoms such as a dull pain in the chest, a mild discomfort or a pain spreading to the back or stomach.

It said men and women should watch out for pain in the centre of the chest, pain spreading to the arms neck and jaw, and also perhaps feeling sick and sweaty.

Claire Jackson-Prior, aged 36, told how she had symptoms of chest tightness, being hot and shaky and tingling in the left arm.

She said: "Even though I felt ill, I wasn't in agony. I knew something wasn't right but I didn't want to make a fuss and call 999. I thought I would be embarrassed if it turned out to just be a panic attack or something like that. Instead I called NHS Direct who identified what was wrong and immediately sent an ambulance to my house.

"I was shocked that I'd had a heart attack. It wasn't how I imagined one to be, and as a young woman I didn't think it would be the kind of thing that would happen to me.

"If it happened again I would have no qualms about dialling 999 immediately and I would urge other women to do the same."

Tags: Europe | Heart Health | Menís Health | UK News | Womenís Health & Gynaecology

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