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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK
Heart disease a 'huge challenge'
Man being resuscitated
The report said thousands of heart attacks could be prevented
Thousands of Scottish lives lost to coronary heart disease and diabetes could be saved through better medical treatment, a report has claimed.

Researchers said the National Health Service faces a huge challenge in battling the illnesses.

They also claimed that the NHS could do better to manage coronary heart disease (CHD) and diabetes.

The report was commissioned by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

It claimed that while fatalities were on the up, the NHS could better manage coronary heart disease and diabetes through ground-breaking medicines that would save tens of thousands of UK lives.

Edward Bramley-Harker, an associate director of NERA, the independent economic consultancy which conducted the research, said while modern medicines had made a "huge" impact on the current treatment of CHD and diabetes, the number of sufferers was expected to surge over the next two decades.

Lifestyle and diet have an important role to play but modern medicines can make a real difference

"However, with better diagnosis and more pro-active treatment of these diseases, the NHS will be able to save lives and expensive hospital stays as well as treat more patients each year," he said.

An estimated half a million people north of the border have CHD.

More people in Scotland die from the disease than in any other part of the UK, with 261 deaths per 100,000 men and 98 per 100,000 women in 2001.

Monday's report said wider prescribing of statins could prevent 30,000 heart attacks and 20,000 strokes in the UK over the next five years and save 14,000 lives from CHD.

The UK rate of doses of the drug, which has already saved some 6,000 lives, was 24 per 1,000 patients in the five years to 2002, compared to 52 in Norway.

'Increasing uptake'

The UK Heart Protection Study said statins saved the life of one in every 58 users.

Tighter management of blood glucose for those already diagnosed with diabetes could save 380,000 hospital bed days and allow the NHS to treat an extra 78,000 UK patients per year by 2007, the report added.

And, with effective diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and CHD, doctors would also be able to treat more than 100,000 extra patients per year in 20 years' time.

Jim Eadie, director of the ABPI Scotland, said: "Scotland has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the developed world.

"Of course, lifestyle and diet have an important role to play but modern medicines can make a real difference.

"Used properly, they can and do improve health and increasing their uptake will save thousands more lives and help to make the people of Scotland healthier."

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