Fewer deaths but heart dis­ease ‘still big­gest killer’

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS - MARK SMITH mark.smith@waleson­line.co.uk

FEWER peo­ple are dy­ing pre­ma­turely from heart dis­ease in Wales but it re­mains the coun­try’s “sin­gle big­gest killer”, a new re­port has re­vealed.

Car­dio­vas­cu­lar (heart and cir­cu­la­tory) dis­ease causes more than a quar­ter (27%) of all deaths in Wales each year – an av­er­age of 25 each day.

Across the coun­try there are an es­ti­mated 375,000 peo­ple cur­rently liv­ing with a heart-re­lated con­di­tion – some 4% of the pop­u­la­tion.

Smok­ing, high blood pres­sure, be­ing over­weight and drink­ing too much al­co­hol all sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease a per­son’s chance of heart dis­ease.

But ac­cord­ing to a new Welsh Govern­ment re­port, since 2009 there has been a 20% re­duc­tion in deaths from coro­nary heart dis­ease be­fore the age of 75, while over the last 20 years there has been a 68% drop in the same age range.

Sim­i­larly, the num­ber of peo­ple dy­ing from a heart at­tack has fallen by 134 over the last five years to 1,478, and the num­ber of pa­tients dy­ing from heart fail­ure has re­duced by nearly 40%.

The re­port also noted a steady re­duc­tion in the num­ber of peo­ple dy­ing from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, with 1,000 fewer peo­ple a year dy­ing com­pared to five years ago.

In 2010 more than 10,000 peo­ple died from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, and by 2015 this had fallen to just over 9,000.

The re­duc­tion has been at­trib­uted to a num­ber of fac­tors, in­clud­ing im­proved de­tec­tion of heart dis­ease among GPs, the ban on smok­ing in pub­lic places and bet­ter NHS treat­ments.

Health Sec­re­tary Vaughan Gething said: “Heart dis­ease is a ma­jor killer in Wales, par­tic­u­larly af­fect­ing our poorer com­mu­ni­ties, with one in seven men and nearly one in 10 women dy­ing from the dis­ease.

“The re­port shows the Welsh NHS has made con­tin­ued progress in im­prov­ing the care of pa­tients with heart dis­ease.

“We’ve seen a steady de­cline in the rate of peo­ple dy­ing from all car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, thanks to ad­vances in the field of medicine and im­prove­ments in life­style be­hav­iours which re­duce the risk of de­vel­op­ing or dy­ing from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

“But the big­gest re­duc­tion has been in the rate of peo­ple un­der the age of 75 dy­ing early from coro­nary heart dis­ease, with a 68% re­duc­tion over the last 20 years.

“But we’re de­ter­mined to im­prove this fur­ther.

“One avoid­able death is one too many – we know there’s more to do in treat­ing and pre­vent­ing heart dis­ease.”

While progress is be­ing made, Wales is still lag­ging be­hind Eng­land and North­ern Ire­land when it comes to death rates from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease in peo­ple be­low the age of 75.

The high­est death rates from the con­di­tion in Wales were found in Merthyr Tyd­fil (103.8 per 100,000 peo­ple) and Blae­nau Gwent (100.5 per 100,000 peo­ple).

But the an­nual progress re­port from the chair of the Heart Con­di­tions Im­ple­men­ta­tion Group de­scribes “ex­cel­lent ex­am­ples” of im­prov­ing ser­vices through­out Wales de­spite deal­ing with com­plex and in­creas­ing de­mand.

Health boards are be­ing tasked with di­ag­nos­ing, as­sess­ing and, where ap­pro­pri­ate, treat­ing heart pa­tients in their com­mu­ni­ties in a bid to free up hos­pi­tal beds.

At present 75,000 “bed days” are taken up ev­ery year in Welsh hospi­tals by car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease pa­tients.

And the re­port found that more peo­ple are un­der­tak­ing car­diac re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion which of­fers guid­ance on diet, ex­er­cise and life­style choices.

In turn, it helps pa­tients man­age their con­di­tion and re­duce the risk of re­peat at­tacks and hos­pi­tal read­mis­sions.

Com­ment­ing on the re­port, head of the Bri­tish Heart Foun­da­tion (BHF) Cymru Adam Fletcher said: “It is en­cour­ag­ing to see progress in tack­ling car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease in Wales, with fewer peo­ple un­der the age of 75 dy­ing as a re­sult of this dev­as­tat­ing set of dis­eases, and more peo­ple be­ing re­ferred for car­diac re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

“How­ever, we can­not be com­pla­cent.

“This re­port also shows that many pa­tients in Wales still aren’t be­ing di­ag­nosed quickly enough, and are there­fore miss­ing out on the health­care that they ur­gently need.

“Sur­vival rates from out of hos­pi­tal car­diac ar­rest also re­main stub­bornly low.

“BHF Cymru is com­mit­ted to work­ing with the Welsh Govern­ment and health boards in Wales to tackle these is­sues.

“Through our vi­tal re­search, our life-sav­ing CPR train­ing, and our cas­cade test­ing pro­gramme to iden­tify peo­ple with fa­mil­ial hy­per­c­holes­terolemia (FH) which causes heart at­tacks, we will fur­ther im­prove the lives of peo­ple in Wales.”

Be­ing over­weight, smok­ing, high blood pres­sure and drink­ing too much al­co­hol all sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease a per­son’s chance of heart dis­ease

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