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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Scotland: Heart of the matter
David Eyre
Broadcast Journalist, Politics Show Scotland

Scotland has a big problem with heart disease, with death rates higher than nearly every other country in western Europe. Politics Show Scotland gets to the heart of the problem and asks why the Scots are more likely to die of this health condition than their European neighbours.

Surgeons performing cardiac surgery
Scots are more likely to need cardiac surgery

Scotland's hospitals deal with more than 52,000 cases of heart diseases every year.

The reason? Most people agree that it is linked to high rates of smoking, poor diet and poverty.

The Scottish Executive has made a commitment to cut the number of coronary deaths in under-75s by 50% between 1995 and 2010.

But this week new research has shown that some patients with heart disease might be having problems getting the help they need from the National Health Service.

The health divide

HEART DISEASE - RISK FACTORS
Smoking - twice as likely to suffer problems
Alcohol - can increase the risk
Drug abuse - linked to heart disease
High cholesterol levels - increases the risk especially if combined with poor diet
High blood pressure - increases the heart's workload
Lack of exercise - increases the risk
Excessive weight - puts extra strain on heart
Diabetes - increases the risk
Previous heart attack history - more likely to suffer further attacks
High stress levels - may contribute
Family history - more likely to suffer from the disease
Age - risk increases with age

The National Health Service has published figures showing that the richer a patient is, the much more likely they are to get surgery like heart bypass or angioplasty to treat their symptoms.

Poorer people are much less likely to get these kinds of life-saving treatments.

The study backs up previous work that showed that the poorest heart patients wait about three weeks longer for surgery than the most well-off.

They are also less likely to have their condition investigated as the disease develops and less likely to be referred for cardiac surgery.

This is strange, because poorer people are much more likely to suffer from cardiac disease, so you would imagine they should get more attention from the National Health Service.

Disadvantaged and diseased

A report published in the British Medical Journal backs up the thesis that there's a link between disadvantage and heart disease.

It says: "In addition to their greater burden of disease, worse prognosis, and poorer access to investigation and surgery, socio-economically deprived patients may be further disadvantaged by having to wait longer for surgery because of being given lower priority."

Socio-economically deprived patients may be further disadvantaged by having to wait longer for surgery because of being given lower priority.

The study found that patients who were most deprived tended to be younger and were more likely to be female.

The most deprived patients also had to wait about three weeks longer for surgery than those better off.

Let us know what you think. That is the Politics Show on Sunday 02 May at Midday.

Have your say

The Politics Show - looking at the issues which hit the headlines.

Tune into Politics Show Scotland, on BBC One on Sundays at Noon, with reporter Amber Henshaw and presenter Glenn Campbell.


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SEE ALSO:
Meet presenter Glenn Campbell
02 Mar 03  |  Politics Show


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