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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 15:56 GMT
Drop in heart and stroke deaths
Heart attack patient
Rates of heart disease are still the highest in western Europe
The number of Scots dying from heart disease or stroke has continued to fall, according to NHS statistics.

The figures showed that the death rate among under 75s from coronary heart disease fell by 8.4% last year.

While death rates from cerebrovascular disease, which includes strokes, fell by 7%.

But Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon warned against complacency and pointed out the death rate was still the highest in western Europe.

Ms Sturgeon said it was "encouraging" that fewer people were dying prematurely from coronary heart disease and stroke.

We must make sure all parts of Scottish society get the benefits of improvements to coronary heart disease and stroke services
Nicola Sturgeon
Health secretary

She added: "If present trends continue, we are on track to meet targets to halve premature stroke deaths over 15 years and cut premature deaths from coronary heart disease by 60%."

The number of heart bypasses and angioplasties has also fallen by 4.4% from 8,262 to 7,898, the figures said.

Although bypass operation rates have been declining since 2001, this is the first time that angioplasties, in which a balloon is used to open a blockage in a coronary artery, have dropped.

'Ban on smoking'

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Ross Finnie MSP urged the Scottish Government to focus on improving lifestyles in its bid to further reduce heart disease death rates.

Mr Finnie said: "These figures are a welcome sign that public health initiatives, such as the ban on smoking in public places, are now having an impact on the health of the nation.

"Sadly, the rising incidence of obesity could reverse this trend.

"The Scottish Government must hammer home the message that a healthier lifestyle drastically reduces the chance of coronary heart disease."

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