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by Tom Freeman
13 May 2019
Call for new heart disease plan after premature death rate rises for first time in 50 years

Heart scan - credit Sam Felder CC2.0

Call for new heart disease plan after premature death rate rises for first time in 50 years

The number of people dying early from heart and circulatory disease has risen in Scotland for the first time in 50 years, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has reported.  

Heart and circulatory diseases cause around thirty per cent of all deaths in Scotland, but after decades of improvements, in 2017 more than 2,000 people under 65 died from heart disease or stroke, an eight per cent increase since 2014.

Across the UK there was a similar rise, with 42,384 deaths in under-75s from heart and circulatory conditions in 2017, up from 41,042 in 2014.

The research charity said the figures showed the need for a new national action plan in Scotland, as services are currently working from an updated 2009 document.

Improvements in medical treatments and changing lifestyles such as a decline in smoking rates led to a sharp decline in deaths by three quarters since the 1960s, but the BHF warned undiagnosed risk factors such as high blood pressure and “stark inequalities” could see deaths among younger people continue to rise.

James Cant, Director of BHF Scotland, warned against complacency.

“We want to do more, with a renewed focus to tackle these issues,” he said. “With the continued commitment of our researchers and the public’s generous support, we hope that the next ten years will see us make unparalleled progress towards our vision of a world free from the fear of heart and circulatory diseases.”

Kylie Strachan, the BHF’s senior policy and public affairs officer in Scotland, said: “This shows that we must not be complacent and must look to the future, and ensure our healthcare system is delivering for people with heart disease today and ready for the challenges of tomorrow.

“A national conversation is required: one that that is collaborative with government, clinicians, patients and the third sector working together to deliver a heart disease strategy for Scotland that is ambitious, forward thinking and built on breakthroughs. BHF Scotland is ready and willing to engage with all partners in order to achieve this.”

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