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Monday, 15 October, 2001, 23:49 GMT 00:49 UK
No decline in heart disease
Heart attack
Many middle aged men are at risk of heart disease
Middle-aged men are just as likely to be diagnosed with heart disease now as they were 20 years ago, according to research.

Although death rates are down and fewer men are suffering heart attacks, there has been no decrease in the overall prevalence of coronary heart disease.

Researchers surveyed 8,000 men between the ages of 40 and 59 at regular intervals between 1978 and 1996.

Heart disease facts
1.1 million men and 1 million women in the UK have or have had angina
There are 274,000 heart attacks each year. 149,000 in men and 125,000 in women
1.3 million people in the UK have had a heart attack
There are 63,000 new cases of heart failure each year
The rate of diagnosis of heart disease remained steady throughout the time of the study.

The chances of dying from heart disease in Britain have gone down - as they have throughout the industrialised world.

And fewer men are experiencing symptoms such as angina (chest pain).

The research team was drawn from the Cardiovascular Research Unit at the Royal Free and UCL Medical School in London.

Researchers argue that the fact that middle aged and elderly men are still vulnerable to heart disease emphasises just how important it is that treatments to control the condition are made widely available.

These include drugs to thin the blood and reduce cholesterol levels.

Living longer

Belinda Linden, the British Heart Foundation's Head of Medical Information, said: "This research reflects the BHF's own statistics showing that more people are surviving heart attacks.

"However, it is clear that the fall in deaths does not mean that fewer people are getting coronary heart disease in the first place - just living with it for longer.

"The figures show that prevalence is not falling and in the over 75s is definitely rising.

"Many people with CHD enjoy a good quality of life but the downside for others could be years of medication, pain, or mobility problems.

"In addition, living with coronary heart disease can mean financial costs, time off work, hospitalisation and a decreased quality of life.

"The best strategy is to prevent CHD from developing by living a healthier lifestyle."

The research is published in the journal Heart.

See also:

06 Sep 01 | Health
Men's diets risk their hearts
05 Apr 01 | Health
Heart care 'biased against women'
15 Mar 01 | Health
Obsessives risk heart attacks
10 Oct 00 | Health
Depression may boost heart risk
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