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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 09:38 GMT
Heart disease deaths above UK average
The number of heart disease victims has fallen
The number of people dying from heart disease in Wales has fallen, but is still above the UK average, according to a new survey.

The figures released by the British Heart Foundation show that 0.244% of men - and 0.088% of women - died from the coronary disease in 2000 in Wales, compared with 0.427% of men - and 0.154% of women - in 1990.

Poor diets and smoking cause heart disease
The national average is 0.226% of men, and 0.078% of women.

To combat the number of victims, health chiefs have stressed the importance of changing to healthier lifestyles.

"We need to do a lot more to prevent people developing the disease," said Dr Liam Penny, a consultant cardiologist at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

"There hasn't been a fall in the number who develop the disease, as there hasn't been a change in lifestyles.

"In Wales, there is a clear link between poverty, poor diet and heavy cigarette smoking."

Biggest killer

Dr Penny stressed this was particularly prevalent amongst manual workers, saying the professional classes are now smoking a lot less.

He also highlighted that women in particular continue to smoke despite repeated health warnings.

"We all have the view it will happen to someone else, and it is a very difficult thing to change one's lifestyle," added Dr Penny.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is still the single biggest killer in the UK, claiming nearly 125,000 lives a year.

In Scotland, 0.289% of men, and 0.109% of women died, compared to 0.25% of men and 0.089% of women in Northern Ireland.

Advances in treatment have been given as the main reason for the unprecedented drop in CHD.

In Wales, a new 1m strategy to tackle the problem was launched back in the summer.

But the Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation stressed the importance of lifestyle is vital to cut the number of deaths.

"Medical research can do so much to save lives, but in the long run people must take responsibility for their actions," said Sir Charles George.

"Smoking, physical inactivity and a poor diet are the biggest causes of preventable coronary disease."

See also:

01 Feb 02 | Health
Heart disease deaths plummet
24 Jan 02 | Wales
NHS staff shortage is 'unclear'
10 Oct 01 | Wales
Cancer treatment delay inquiry
12 Jul 01 | Wales
New strategy for waiting lists
28 Feb 01 | Scotland
Row erupts over waiting lists
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