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Facts and Figures: Heart Disease in the UK

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 15 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Heart Disease Heart Attack

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the countries that make up the United Kingdom have rates of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, that are some of the highest in the world.

Cardiovascular disease causes more deaths in the UK each year than any other single disease or condition.

Five Quick Facts about Heart Attacks in the UK

Here are five quite scary facts about the impact that heart attacks have on people in the UK:

  • Someone dies from a heart attack every six minutes – that’s 10 people every hour.
  • In total, 146,000 people have a heart attack every year and 94,000 of them die.
  • Over 1.4 million people in the UK over the age of 35 have had a heart attack.
  • 179 people lose one of their parents every day to a fatal heart attack.
  • One third of people who suffer a fatal heart attack die before they can be taken to hospital.

Heart Disease is More Than Heart Attacks

The type of heart disease that leads to heart attacks is only one part of a much wider problem. In total, all types of cardiovascular disease kill 200,000 people in the UK every year. Cardiovascular disease costs the National Health Service in the UK nearly £15 billion annually.

Angina is a common form of heart disease – this affects around 2 million people in the UK. Slightly more of them, 1.1 million are men, compared to 850,000 women. The constant pain of angina and its restriction on lifestyle causes a huge reduction in quality of life.

Heart Disease and Women in the UK

The stereotypical view that we tend to have of heart disease is that it affects middle aged men. Women are thought to be much less likely to have a heart attack and it is therefore a sobering fact that three times as many women die of heart disease than die of breast cancer each year in the UK.

Although the female hormones do provide some protection against heart disease before the menopause, the growing impact of risk factors such as an unhealthy diet, smoking and taking too little exercise means that a higher proportion of younger women are now succumbing to heart disease. After the menopause, the hormones no longer provide any protective effect, so the risk is the same for men and women.

Risk Factors and Heart Disease in the UK

The underlying cause of heart disease in the UK is lifestyle. We just do not live healthy lives. So many of the people in the UK are overweight – around 43% of adult men and 32% of adult women. Worse still, 30% of children are already overweight and experts predict that heart disease in the future will continue to rise. Younger people now have the same sorts of problems with their cardiovascular system as middle aged people did a few years ago.

The number of people who have other risk factors for heart disease is also high. 6 out of 10 people over 18 in the UK have high cholesterol, approximately 30% of all adults have high blood pressure and far less than half of all adults take enough exercise. Far too many people still smoke, a habit which kills 25,000 people every year because of the impact that it has on the cardiovascular system. Most of these deaths could have been prevented.

Heart Disease and Children

Although younger people are now developing chronic heart disease earlier in life, the UK figures for congenital heart disease show that fewer than 5000 babies born in any one year suffer a problem with their heart, such as a hole in the heart. Surgical treatments for congenital heart problems are very advanced in the UK and survival rate is high.

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How many people in the UK are living with aortic valve disease?
kelly - 27-Oct-11 @ 12:21 PM
Hi there, My father died of ischaemic heart disease due to atherosclerosis when he was 51. He ate fried food almost every day of his life, smoked from the age of 14 between 20-60 cigarettes a day and was an alcoholic from the age of 30 onwards. The rest of my family has no incidences of heart disease. I do not smoke, rarely drink and have a good diet with very little saturated fat and only complex carbs such as brown rice. Even though I know I am doing a good job at lowering my risk factors, and that my father's death was probably due to lifestyle rather than genetic factors... I can't help but worry about him passing on his "unhealthy" genes, considering he was already 42 when I was born. I have recently had blood tests, an echocardiogram and an ECG with my doctor telling me everything was fine, that I have a slight Mitral Valve leak but that this is very common and is nothing to worry about. I have been told that most mitral valve leaks are symptomless throughout life but that some can get worse and can lead to heart disease. My questions are: how can I know if the leak is getting worse and can my father's lifetsyle have passed on genes that will effect my heart? The anxiety this is causing me has been a problem for almost a year now. thanks for reading, Rob.
rob - 21-May-11 @ 3:34 PM
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