Deaths from heart disease and stroke in Scotland are continuing a downward trend, with figures showing significant decline in just a year.
The General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) said overall deaths from all causes in the second quarter of this year were 6.5 per cent down on the same period in 2013, with 12,846 registered between April and June.
But large falls were seen for both heart disease and stroke, which campaigners put down to the continuing effectiveness of schemes to raise public awareness of the causes of the conditions and the symptoms.
The latest figures showed that between April and June, there were 1,634 deaths from coronary heart disease – down 11.9 per cent compared to the same period in 2013 when there were 1,855 deaths.
The same period in 2012 saw 1,877 heart disease deaths and in 2011 it was 1,913. The GROS statistics showed an even bigger fall in stroke deaths which dropped 13.6 per cent from 1,129 to 976 in the space of a year.
And there was a drop in deaths from cancer, with 3,837 deaths between April and June, down 3.8 per cent compared to the same period in 2013.
There was also a record low number of stillbirths recorded during the second quarter, with 51 instances, amounting to a rate of 3.6 per 1,000 births.
Campaigners said the reasons behind falling numbers of heart and stroke deaths included people taking action to improve their health as well as efforts to alert people to the warning signs of potential problems.
Examples include the ThinkFAST campaign to alert people to the symptoms of a stroke, such as face and arm weakness and slurred speech. Getting help quickly can mean the best chances of survival and reduced disability.
David Clark, chief executive of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said: “We are pleased to see the continuing fall in deaths from heart disease and stroke which reflect both improved services and healthier lifestyles.
“The general public are becoming more aware of the symptoms of heart disease and stroke and the need to seek help urgently.”
Marjory Burns, director of British Heart Foundation Scotland, said: “It’s good news that deaths from coronary heart disease continue to fall, but there’s no room for complacency.
“Each month in Scotland, over 1,800 people go to hospital with a heart attack and thousands of people still die every year from a disease that is largely preventable.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “It is extremely welcome news that deaths from cancer, stroke and heart disease are falling significantly.
“We are determined to continue this trend, and so will continue to focus on early detection and diagnosis, providing the best possible hospital care, and supporting people with longer-term care, treatment and recovery in their communities.”