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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 August 2005, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Asian people's heart risk studied
Heart Monitor
The study examined heart attack data
People of Indian and Pakistani origin living in Scotland are 60% to 70% more likely to have a heart attack but less likely to die, according to a study.

Edinburgh University researchers used ethnicity data from the 2001 population census to find out more about the links between ethnicity and certain diseases.

They found that 30% of South Asians die after their first heart attack compared to 50% of the general population.

The latest census was compared to data held on hospital admission forms.

Professor of Public Health at Edinburgh University, Raj Bhopal, led the research.

We need a great deal of awareness and a great deal of attention to reducing cardio-vascular risk factors
Prof Raj Bhopal
Edinburgh University

He said the findings backed observations from round the world, particularly in England and Wales.

He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "For the first time we've been able to look at incidence rates, the rate of new cases, of heart disease.

"We found that in new cases the incidence is very much higher.

"That shows that it is not the case of people who are developing heart disease dying more, rather the opposite, South Asians in Scotland seem to survive better once they get their heart attack but they get more heart attacks."

Prof Bhopal said a major change in lifestyle was a key factor in the findings, including poor diet, higher fat intake, weight gain, lack of exercise and a very high prevalence of diabetes.

Lifestyle choices

He said all the possible causes were the subject of intense study, but as yet there was no definitive answer as to why the heart disease rates were so high.

South Asians living in traditional societies, particularly in villages and small towns, were found to have a relatively low rate of heart disease and diabetes.

But Prof Bhopal said once people urbanised and developed "Westernised lifestyles", obesity and heart disease became increasingly common.

He added: "Scotland is one of the world's capitals for heart disease anyway and here we have a sub-section of the population with rates that are even higher.

"So we need a great deal of awareness and a great deal of attention to reducing cardiovascular risk factors.

"People should be avoiding weight gain, they should be taking exercise, if they are smoking they should give up, particularly attention to the content of the diet with high intake of fruits and vegetables and low intake of fatty foods."

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