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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
British heart disease rates high
Britain has high rates of heart disease
Britons are more likely to die from heart disease than people living in almost every other western European or major industrialised country.

A study by researchers in Switzerland also shows that many of these countries have done a much better job at reducing deaths from the disease since the 1960s compared to Britain.

Similarly, many have had better success with efforts to cut deaths from strokes.

Heart disease league
1. Japan
2. Hong Kong
3. France
4. Portugal
5. Spain

32. UK
Dr Fabio Levi and colleagues from University Hospital Vaudois in Lausanne examined official figures collected by the World Health Organization between 1965 and 1998.

Worst rates

Their study shows that Britain has one of the worst rates of heart disease of the 15 European Union member states. Just Ireland and Finland lag behind.

In 1998, 150 men in every 100,000 died from heart disease in Britain.

This compares with 99 per 100,000 in the rest of the EU and just 36 in Japan, which has the lowest rates in the world.

For British women, the figure was 67 deaths per 100,000 of the population. The EU average was 45 while in Japan the figure was just 17.

Overall, deaths from heart disease in Britain have fallen by almost 40% since 1965.

However, other countries have seen even greater falls.

Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and the USA were all behind Britain in the 1960s but now have lower death rates for heart disease.

Stroke league
1. Canada
2. Switzerland
3. USA
4. France
5. Australia

16. UK
There is a similar pattern for strokes. Deaths from strokes have fallen by 57% in Britain since the 1960s.

But again, countries like Australia, Belguim, Germany and Japan have seen a higher reduction in deaths from stroke and are now ahead of Britain.

Nevertheless, Britain's rates compare relatively favourable to the rest of the European Union.

In 1998, 44 out of every 100,000 men died from strokes in Britain. The figure for women was 39.

Across the EU, the average death rate is 46 out of every 100,000 men and 36 out of every 100,000 women.

Canada has the lowest death rates for strokes at 27 per 100,000 of the population.

The Department of Health said efforts were being made to reduce UK death rates from this conditions.

A spokeswoman said: "We know rates of and deaths from coronary heart disease have remained higher in the UK which is why we developed the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease in 2000."

She added: "We are already well on the way to meet our target to reduce deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke in people under 75 by 40% by 2010."

Global variation

The study also revealed that while deaths from heart disease and strokes are generally falling worldwide they are increasing in Russia and eastern Europe.

Ukraine has the worst rate of deaths from heart disease in the world while Russia has the worst rates for deaths from strokes.

The British Heart Foundation said the study showed that progress had been made in tackling heart disease across the world.

Alison Shaw, a cardiac nurse advisor at the BHF, added: "The research shows the importance of prevention in reducing coronary heart disease deaths and sharing knowledge about education and treatment with eastern European countries in order to bring pan-European rates of coronary heart disease down."

The study is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health.

See also:

07 Jun 02 | Health
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