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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 23:58 GMT
Heart deaths 'continue to fall'
Heart monitor
Heart disease death rates are falling
The government is on track to meet its target to reduce deaths from heart disease, official figures indicate.

Data from 2003-2005 shows that the death rate had fallen 35.9% since 1996; the government is aiming for a 40% fall by 2010.

The data also showed patients were getting quicker treatment and there were more consultants.

Experts said changes in lifestyle had also had an impact on death rates, which have been falling for decades.

The British Heart Foundation said heart disease deaths have been on a downward trend since the 1970s and while improved services had played a part, they were not the only cause.

This report shows the fantastic achievements the NHS has made since 2000
Patricia Hewitt, health secretary

The government published its National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease in 2000, which set out a 10-year plan to improve standards of care.

The latest report, Shaping the Future, gives an update on how care is being delivered.

As well as showing the fall in the death rate, latest figures also revealed a narrowing in the gap between the poorest areas and the national average.

In 1996 it stood at 36.7 extra deaths per 100,000, but has now dropped to 26.4 per 100,000.

Other data shows the number of lives saved through cholesterol-busting drugs called statins had tripled since 2000 to 9,700 in 2005.

The number of consultant cardiologists has risen by nearly 300 to 725 in the last six years and no patient now waits over three months for surgery compared to 5,663 in 2002.

Facilities

Professor Roger Boyle, national clinical director for heart disease and stroke, said: "The National Service Framework continues to set the standard in a local NHS which now has greater financial and decision-making power than ever before.

"Increased specialist facilities and better frontline treatments for heart attack victims continue to improve services for patients."

But he added: "It is still not perfect. We would like to get better rehabilitation and we need to look at how people are cared for at the end of their life."

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "This report shows the fantastic achievements the NHS has made since 2000, not only in treating CHD patients - with better use of statins and faster access to heart surgery - but also in helping to prevent it."

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: "It is true that significant improvements in services have helped, but death rates have been falling for a long time and that has also been due to changes in lifestyle, such as people giving up smoking."




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