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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 August, 2003, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Heart deaths 'fall by a third'
Heart monitor
The study compared heart care in developed countries
Deaths from heart disease in the UK have fallen by a third over the last ten years, experts have revealed.

They say the fall is partly due to a wider range of treatments being available to treat the condition.

But they found a patient's chance of surviving a heart attack depended on where they live.

The Global Registry of Acute Coronary Events, which looked at 14 developed countries, found variations in care, despite international guidelines.

Local factors appear to have a profound influence on the extent and time taken to adopt therapies
Professor Keith Fox, University of Edinburgh
Professor Keith Fox of the University of Edinburgh. told the European Society of Cardiology British Heart Foundation figures show male death rates in the UK fell from 393 per 100,000 in 1990 to 226 per 100,000 in 2000.

For women, the figures have dropped from 145 per 100,000 in 1990 to 78 per 100,000 in 2000.

Death rates have levelled off in the past two years but heart experts say they are now trying to cut deaths further by closing the gap between treatment guidelines and practice.

Professor Fox said that while there has been "an important fall" in death rates, there should be no complacency because there were gaps in terms of care provision.

Priorities

The four-year Grace study looked at thousands of patients with heart disease being treated in 94 hospitals .

It found that patients who had heart attacks or acute angina were given different treatment depending on national health priorities and differences between hospitals even though there are international guidelines on the management of heart disease.

The research found some there was even variation between different, with some introducing new treatments very quickly and others a lot more slowly even where there was strong evidence that they were effective.

Professor Fox said: "Our main objective in this study was to look at the rate of uptake of therapies into practice across regions of the world.

"We wanted to demonstrate where the problems arose and then make recommendations for improvements."

He added: "Local factors, such as national healthcare policies in certain countries and the availability of resources, appear to have a profound influence on the extent and time taken to adopt therapies.

"For example, a teaching hospital can offer a high degree of staff expertise, so it can implement new therapies more quickly.

"Also, there are variations among countries in the number of regulatory hurdles to cross before treatments are introduced."

The British Heart Foundation is funding a network of acute coronary syndrome nurses in hospitals around the UK as part of efforts to identify ways of improving the care of patients with heart problems.

A spokeswoman said: "There are variations in the treatment of acute coronary syndrome between hospitals.

"Whilst recognising that there have been major improvements in the treatment of patients following a heart attack, the treatment of other forms of acute coronary syndrome, for example severe angina, needs to be refined and made consistent across the NHS."

The research is published in the European Heart Journal.


SEE ALSO:
British heart disease rates high
18 Jul 02  |  Health
Heart care 'lottery' in Europe
21 Feb 03  |  Health
Heart disease 'costs billions'
20 Nov 02  |  Health


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