We’re making progress, but we can’t stop now
Medical Director Professor Peter Weissberg welcomes some good news
– but insists there’s still a long way to go.
January 27, 2012
New heart statistics published this week are
a welcome reminder of how far we’ve come in the past decade.
Between 2002 and 2010, the proportion of people in the UK who die
from a heart attack each year has more than
The new stats come from our Health Promotion
Research Group, based at the University of Oxford. They’re
published in the British Medical Journal.
The figures show that each year between 2002
and 2010, the rate of heart attacks fell by an
impressive five per cent. For people who did have a
heart attack, the chance of dying fell even more dramatically,
by nine per cent a year. These figures are true for both women
This good news is due partly to
prevention of heart attacks –
by better management of risk factors such as smoking, high blood
pressure and cholesterol – and due partly to better treatment of
heart attack patients when they reach hospital.
Good and bad news
Last year was our 50th
birthday. When the BHF was formed, in 1961, the number of
people dying from heart attack was huge. You were around
four times more likely to die of a heart attack in
the days when Harold MacMillan was Prime Minister than you are
Although more people are surviving after a heart attack, many go on to develop heart failure
there is so much more still to do
. Heart attacks
claim around 88,000 lives every year, and heart and circulatory disease
is still the UK’s
biggest killer. As the authors of this new report point out, more
than 840,000 people had a heart attack in the years covered in the
This study also reminds us
that the people who reach hospital quickly are the lucky ones.
About a quarter of those who suffer a heart attack die from a
cardiac arrest before medical help arrives – we know that of the
30,000 people each year who
suffer a cardiac arrest ourt of hospital, only one in ten will
survive. We could save thousands of lives each year if more people
attempted rapid Cardiopulmonary
Resuscitation (CPR) in cases of cardiac arrest.
That’s why we launched our new Hands-only CPR campaign earlier this month. You
might have seen our advertisement starring Hollywood hard
man Vinnie Jones on the TV, but if you’ve missed out
please take a look on our website. Our
message is simple: if you suspect someone has had a cardiac arrest,
first call 999, and then push hard and fast in the centre of the
chest. It could save someone’s life.
Mending Broken Hearts
alarming trend behind today’s figures is that although more people
are surviving after a heart attack, many go on to develop heart failure, a debilitating disease that
leaves thousands house-bound and unable to do the simplest
exercise, like climb the stairs. More than three quarters
of a million people in the UK live with this condition.
That’s why over the next ten years we are making tackling heart
failure one of our biggest priorities, through our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal.
These stats are a cheering
reminder of how far we’ve come, but they also show how far
we have to go. We’ll need all your support if we’re to continue
this positive trend over the next ten years.