A recent study carried out by national charity Heart Research UK has revealed that 76 per cent of people living in Central Scotland have been affected in some way by heart disease.
The findings, collated by YouGov on behalf of the organisation, show that despite the fact that 41 people die from cardiovascular disease every day in Scotland, almost half of the 1000 individuals consulted said they were ‘not concerned’ about the condition.
In a bid to raise awareness about the severity of heart disease, Heart Research UK recently launched the Heart of Scotland Appeal which aims to fund pioneering research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.
Various Scottish celebrities have backed the appeal including TV presenter Neil Oliver and Jane McCarry from Still Game, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also pledged her support.
Barbara Harpham, chief executive of Heart Research UK, said: “With the prevalence of cardiovascular disease so much higher in Scotland compared to the rest of UK, it’s vital more people are aware of their risk and how they can reduce it.
“It is worrying to see that, despite the number of people with loved ones being affected by cardiovascular disease, so many people are not concerned about it.
“We are urging all Scots to take cardiovascular disease seriously so we can all keep our loved ones around for longer.”
Professor Nawwar Al-Attar, consultant cardiac and transplant surgeon at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Clydebank and spokesman for Heart Research UK, added: “Although great improvements have been made in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease over the last decade, coronary heart disease is still Scotland’s biggest killer. With an ageing population and rising levels of obesity and diabetes, this progress could be reversed which is why we need to act now.”
Forth Valley Royal Hospital cardiology consultant Dr Catherine Labinjoh praised the charity for campaigning to promote awareness about heart health.
“It is great to be talking more about the importance of caring about our hearts,” she said. “We know that individuals can help reduce their risk of heart disease by leading healthier lifestyles and of course there is still a very strong link between smoking and coronary heart disease. One thing however we don’t talk about very much which is also linked in to this is the social determinance of health, the conditions people grow up in. We know that those living in more deprived communities often have the worst outcomes.
“It is easy to tell people to do things differently but it is much better to change the way people live and behave from a young age so one of the things I think we are missing is the opportunity to act early and focus on prevention.
“I treat people who have established heart disease but the real excitement is how we can stop people getting it? It is about giving people real opportunities from an early age and that means access to good housing, good food and good surroundings such as play parks children can play and exercise in.
“Another issue I think is important is encouraging people to be strong partners in their own health and work with medical professionals. Often if people are smokers or overweight they can feel afraid but we don’t want people to feel afraid or judged, we want to encourage them to reach out and confront their concerns directly and form great habits themselves.”