Heart disease deaths higher in north

People living in the north of the UK have a greater chance of dying from coronary heart disease (CHD) than those living in the south, according to new statistics.

The latest figures from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) showed that the number of men and women under 75 in Scotland dying from CHD was 67% and 84% higher respectively than people living in the south west of England.

The BHF found that the premature death rate tended to increase the further north you travelled and had been increasing since the 1980s. The difference in the male premature death rate from CHD between Scotland and the south west of England was around 40% in the 1980s, but had fluctuated between 50% and 70% since 1992.

However, Wales was also found to be a hotspot, also registering a higher rate than the England average.

Commenting on the figures, Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director of the BHF said: “The North-South divide in death rates has been a problem for decades and it is concerning that the gap is not narrowing, despite efforts made in recent years to improve public health in those areas most in need.”

The BHF statistics also showed that the death rate from CHD was falling, largely because of healthcare advances. However, CHD is still the biggest killer in the UK, resulting in nearly 114,000 deaths in 2003 – nearly 3.5 times more than those caused by lung cancer and over 5.5 times more than deaths caused by injuries or poisoning.

The BHF also found that more people suffer from CHD. The number of men with CHD has increased from 6% in 1994 to 7.4% in 2003, while the number of women with the disease also increased from 4.1% to 4.5% during the same period.

The BHF said that this meant there were now 2.6 million people in the UK living with heart disease.


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