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Dr Vivienne Press
"This epidemic is largely preventable"
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The BBC's James Westhead reports
"Heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK"
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Monday, 14 February, 2000, 08:17 GMT
UK 'trails Europe on heart disease'

heart massage Britain has poor heart disease record

Britain has one of the worst records for coronary heart disease (CHD) in Europe, research suggests.

The UK lags behind most other European countries on death rates, prevention of CHD and eating habits, says the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

It is clear the UK does a very poor job in preventing coronary heart disease compared to other EU countries
Dr Vivienne Press, British Heart Foundation
And the BHF says in its report on European cardiovascular disease that, relative to the number of cases of the disease, the UK does fewer heart bypass operations than any other country in the European Union (EU).

The death rate from coronary heart disease (CHD) for adults aged 35-74 is three times that of France and nearly double that of Italy, research by the BHF's promotion research group at Oxford University shows. Only Finland and Ireland have worse rates.

While France has just 57 deaths per 100,000 people from CHD each year, the UK has 188 per 100,000.

How UK and Europe compare on heart disease
Death rates per 100,000 population: UK - 188, France - 57
Coronary artery bypasses per million adjusted for heart disease prevalence: UK - 258, Belgium - 857
Fat consumption, as % of energy intake: UK - 38.5%, Italy - 33.3%
Fruit and vegetable consumption, grammes per person per day: UK - 248, Spain - 480
Only four countries have worse records for consumption of fat - a factor causing CHD - and the British eat half as much fruit and vegetables as a number of countries including Spain and Portugal.

Though the number of bypass operations being performed - at 362 per million of the population - ranks the UK 8th in the EU, when adjusted for the prevalence of CHD, Britain comes last, the BHF claims.

Dr Vivienne Press, assistant medical director of BHF, said: "This report highlights some extremely worrying trends. It is clear the UK does a very poor job in preventing CHD compared to other EU countries.

"However, it also hides another serious concern. In people under 75 years, CHD is a largely preventable disease and yet the statistics show it remains a serious cause of death and disability across the whole of the EU.

"Western countries in general, and the UK in particular, need to take immediate action to prevent CHD remaining a leading cause of ill health in future years."

Heart disease costs the UK 1.6bn a year, but public health minister Yvette Cooper told the BBC: "We know that we need to take action right across the board."

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