Page last updated at 07:02 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 08:02 UK

Millions 'unaware of heart risk'

Heart
Heart disease is a major killer in the UK

Nearly four million people in the UK may be unaware they are at high risk of heart disease, research suggests.

One in three of those most at risk over the next 10 years remain undiagnosed, the study estimates.

An University of Oxford team screened more than 71,000 people aged over 18 across England, Wales and Scotland.

Campaigners warned the study, published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, showed too many people took their health for granted.

The stark reality, shown by this report, is that people take the health of their heart for granted and it is not high on their agenda to check it is OK
Barbara Harpham
Heart Research UK

Plans are in place in England to screen everybody between the ages of 40 and 74 for cardiovascular disease. Scotland has so far not followed suit.

The Oxford study suggests that 7.9 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, or are known to be at risk of developing symptoms.

But it estimates that a further 2.8 million men and 900,000 women at high risk have not been diagnosed.

The problem is particularly severe among middle aged men, the study suggests.

Lead researcher Professor Andrew Neil, said: "Our findings reinforce the need for a national cardiovascular disease risk assessment programme."

The study found 75% of men and 45% of women who were over 50 already had cardiovascular disease or diabetes, were taking cholesterol or blood pressure drugs or were at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Barbara Harpham, national director of Heart Research UK, said: "The stark reality, shown by this report, is that people take the health of their heart for granted and it is not high on their agenda to check it is OK.

"Ask anyone, particularly women, what they are most likely to die of and they will probably say cancer.

"In fact, it is cardiovascular disease, mostly due to our unhealthy lifestyles."

The Oxford study concludes that wider access to cholesterol-lowering statins is the only policy that is likely to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in the short term.

It says more effective national nutritional policies and lifestyle measures would have a longer-term impact.

The report also warns that it is unclear whether uptake of screening in deprived areas will be high enough to reduce widening health inequalities.


SEE ALSO
Health screening plans unveiled
07 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
Heart disease warning for women
01 May 08 |  Health
Experts' plan to cut heart deaths
06 Feb 07 |  Scotland
Heart disease risks re-assessed
08 Nov 06 |  Tayside and Central

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific