Progress in reducing heart attack deaths stalls

22 February 2018        

Category: Research

Progress in reducing premature deaths (under 75) from coronary heart disease – the leading cause of heart attacks - is slowing to a near standstill, according to our latest figures. 

A hospital ECG print out

Although there was a small fall in deaths from coronary heart disease in 2016, our research shows that the death rate declined by just 11% between 2012 and 2016, compared to 24% between 2007 and 2011. 

434 deaths every week

In 2016 in the UK, 22,615 people died from coronary heart disease before they reached the age of 75 – the equivalent of 434 people every week. In total, more than 66,000 people of all ages lost their lives to the disease, which remains one of the UK’s single biggest killers.  

The slow down in progress could soon spell the end of decades of continuous decline in deaths from heart disease unless research is accelerated to improve diagnosis and treatment. 

Keeping up the pace of progress

The number of people dying from coronary heart disease has more than halved over the last 30 years, largely thanks to medical breakthroughs such as the introduction of clot-busting drugs and stenting, alongside the substantial fall in smoking rates. However, further research in to areas such as how to stop the furring of the arteries that leads to a heart attack is urgently needed to keep up the pace of progress. 

Ensuring that more people with conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol are treated effectively, irrespective of where they live in the UK, could also bring down the number of people who die prematurely from coronary heart disease in the UK each year. 

A wake-up call

Describing the importance of research in continuing to reduce the number of premature deaths from heart disease our Chief Executive, Simon Gillespie, said:

“Medical research has helped us make huge strides in saving the lives of people suffering heart attacks in the UK, meaning seven in 10 people now survive. However, we can’t get complacent and think the disease is beaten. Tens of thousands of people die of heart attacks caused by coronary heart disease in the UK each year, with many more living with debilitating conditions like heart failure if they do survive.

“This trend should be a wake-up call for everyone involved in fighting heart disease. To keep up the pace of progress, it’s essential that charities and public bodies work together to provide the best possible care for those at risk of heart disease, and fund the promising areas of research that will save more lives.” 

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