Heart attacks kill 21 working age Scots per week

HEART attacks claim the lives of 21 working age Scots each week as the number of people treated for the condition has risen by a fifth, new analysis has revealed.

James Cant is calling for more funding for research.

New analysis from the British Heath Foundation (BHF) revealed 1,110 people across Scotland suffered a fatal heart attack before reaching the age of 65, in 2014.

A heart attack strikes someone every 20 minutes in Scotland - with almost 26,000 heart attack patients treated in Scottish hospitals in 2013/2014.

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This figure has risen by nearly 20 per cent from 22,000 the year before, which the BHF said could be due to better diagnosis and recording of data.

But around a third of heart attacks are still fatal, despite improvements in treatment and diagnosis.

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Through medical research, we’ve made great progress in saving the lives of people suffering from heart attacks.

“But we mustn’t be lulled into thinking we’ve beaten the disease. Every year thousands of people are still dying from heart attacks, and coronary heart disease remains Scotland’s single biggest killer.

“We urgently need to fund more research to find new ways to prevent and treat heart attacks, and ultimately, save more lives.”

There is a wealth of evidence about how genetic and lifestyle factors - such as smoking and high cholestrol - can increase the risk of heart attacks, the charity said.

But further research is urgently needed to combat coronary heart disease, which is one of the main causes of heart attacks.

Experts still have no way to stop the furring of the arteries in coronary heart disease that is responsible for causing so many heart attacks, said Prof Weissberg.

He added: “This is a challenge that only research can provide the answer to.”

The figures have been released as the charity launched a new campaign to highlight how heart conditions can devastate families across the country every day.

Although figures for heart attack deaths remain high, medical research has helped to significantly improve heart attack survival rates.

James Cant, director of BHF Scotland, said: “Every week heart attacks devastate hundreds of families across the country, by killing loved ones and leaving many others with debilitating heart conditions that make the rest of their life a daily struggle.

“The only way we can find new ways to prevent and treat heart attacks is by funding more research.

“We now need the continued backing of our supporters if we’re to make the advances that could save even more lives from heart disease.”

Coronary heart disease kills nearly 6,900 Scots each year and most of these deaths are caused by a heart attack.

The BHF currently funds around £100 million of new research into heart and circulatory disease each year and is the largest independent funder of cardiovascular research in the UK.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “Death rates from coronary heart disease have reduced by more than 43 per cent in the last 10 years, and are reducing faster in the most deprived areas.

“People admitted to hospital as an emergency with their first heart attack now have a 91.8 per cent chance of surviving at least 30 days.

“However the key to tackling heart attacks lie in people’s lifestyles.

“We’re working on strengthening partnerships between primary care and community-led services through GP practices to help address the fundamental issues that keep people in poorer health.”