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Heart disease rates falling across Europe

Wednesday August 20th, 2014

Deaths from heart disease and stroke are falling across Europe, according to an analysis published today.

The figures come from a report in the European Heart Journal today (20 August). They cover trends in deaths from cardiovascular disease over a period of ten years to the most recent year available, usually 2010 to 2012, for 52 out of 53 European countries (excluding Andorra).

In the latest available year, there were just over four million deaths from heart and circulatory diseases, made up of 1.9 million men and 2.2 million women. This accounts for nearly half of all deaths in Europe.

In terms of specific diseases, 1.8 million of the deaths were from coronary heart disease, one million from stroke and 1.2 million from other cardiovascular diseases.

The researchers say that deaths from CVD are declining overall in Europe. But rates vary enormously by country.

The 55-60 year old death rate from coronary heart disease in Russia and Ukraine is similar to that in France for people 20 years older and Russian death rates are more than four times those in the UK.

Researcher Dr Nick Townsend of Oxford University, UK, explains that fewer people are developing cardiovascular disease and, fewer die from it.

He said: "This is probably due to improvements in the behavioural risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, such as decreases in the number of people smoking tobacco, along with better treatments, including preventive ones, such as the increasing use of statins."

But he adds that the rates of people hospitalised for heart disease have risen, probably due to aging populations, and the decreasing mortality rates may be in danger of reversing because of rises in some risk factors, including obesity.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: "The fact remains that heart disease and stroke remain the biggest cause of death among Europeans.

"Perhaps surprisingly, more women are dying from cardiovascular disease than men. These figures are a stark reminder that women need to be more aware of their heart health as heart disease kills almost three times as many women as breast cancer."

Nichols, M. et al. Cardiovascular disease in Europe 2014 - epidemiological update. European Heart Journal 20 August 2014 doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehu299

Tags: Europe | Heart Health | UK News

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