Healthy living

Deaths from heart attack halved in past decade

Deaths from heart attack halved in past decade Greatest fall in middle-aged men and women

The number of people dying from heart attacks in England has fallen by half in the last ten years, according to new research.

The greatest fall in heart attacks and deaths was seen in middle-aged men and women, while the smallest decline was seen in younger and older people.

Oxford University researchers analysed hospital and mortality data from 840,175 men and women in England who suffered a heart attack between 2002 and 2010.

During the time of the study, the death rate from heart attacks fell by 50 per cent in men and 53 per cent in women.

The researchers found that just over half of the fall in heart attack deaths was due to a decrease in the number of new heart attacks, while just under half was due to better medical care in hospital after a heart attack occurred.

Out of 311,419 fatal heart attacks, 70 per cent resulted in sudden death, without the patient being admitted to hospital.

Overall, 61 per cent of heart attacks occurred in men, with 36 per cent causing death, and 73 per cent occurred in people aged 65 and over.

Rising rates of obesity and diabetes may partly explain the lack of improvement in the occurrence of heart attacks among younger people, the researchers said.

The fall in heart attacks and deaths was attributed to people adopting healthier lifestyles such as giving up smoking, improving their diet and increasing physical activity.

Rising rates of obesity and diabetes may partly explain the lack of improvement in the occurrence of heart attacks among the younger age group, the researchers said.

Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the study, said: "This impressive fall in death rates 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.

"But far too many heart attack victims still die from a cardiac arrest before medical help arrives."

He added that many deaths could be prevented if bystanders used "hands-only" CPR, as demonstrated by Vinnie Jones in the recent BHF campaign.

The study is published in the British Medical Journal.

This article was published on Thu 26 January 2012



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