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Male deaths from heart attacks halved

The death rate from heart attack in England has halved in the last decade.

Compared with earlier years, the study in the BMJ found there were fewer heart attacks in the last decade and fewer of these were fatal.

Researchers from the University of Oxford used national hospital and mortality data. They looked at 840,175 men and women in England who had suffered from a total of 861,134 heart attacks between 2002 and 2010. There were fewer heart attacks and fewer of these were fatal. Overall, the death rates for heart attacks fell by 50% in men and 53% in women.

How much of the decline resulted from fewer heart attacks and how much from improved survival after a heart attack? The researchers concluded that just over half of the decline in total death can be attributed to a decline in the number of new heart attacks, and just under half to a decline in the death rate after heart attack.

All told:

  • 61% of the people who experienced heart attack were men,
  • 36% of heart attack cases were fatal and
  • 73% occurred in those aged 65 and over.
  • Out of 311,419 fatal heart attacks, 70% were sudden deaths that occurred without an admission to hospital.

The greatest declines in heart attack event rate and mortality were seen among middle-aged individuals, whereas the smallest declines were seen for the younger and older age groups in both men and women. Rising rates of obesity and diabetes may help explain the lack of improvement in the occurrence of heart attacks among the youngest age group.

In an accompanying BMJ editorial, Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe from the Institute of Cardiovascular Research at the University of Dundee argues that death rates from heart attacks have only fallen in “rich nations” whereas they continue to rise in many others. He suggests that more data is needed from the other countries to reach a conclusion, but that resources to obtain data are scarce

Page created on January 27th, 2012

Page updated on January 27th, 2012