Heart disease rates continue to decrease

Although there has been a decrease in cases of cardiovascular disease, experts warn that the increase in factors that cause the disease, such as obesity, should "be a wake-up call for health professionals around Europe". [Cliff Johnson/Flickr]

Although cases of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are falling, there remains a large disparity between Western and Eastern Europe. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Eight European countries, including France, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, recorded the lowest CVD mortality rates for women, with less than 250 deaths per 100,000. On the other end of the scale, Turkmenistan and Ukraine recorded a CVD mortality rate of 1,000 deaths per 100,000. This rate increased to 1,500 individuals in the case of men.

In France, Israel and Spain there was no difference between the mortality rates of men and women.

Women are more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases than men. However, the study found that the mortality rate of men and women was roughly the same (35% and 36% respectively) when comparing the data of individuals under the age of 75.

On the other hand, the likelihood is reversed when comparing people under the age of 65. Within this age group, men are more likely to die from CVD than women, with mortality rates of 30% and 26% respectively.

The research team behind the study, led by Dr Nick Townsend of the British Heart Foundation’s Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention at the Oxford University, found that although CVD is mainly associated with old age, it is still responsible for more than 1.4 million deaths among the under 75 age group and 700,000 among the under 65s.

There is a disparity between the number of premature deaths in Western and Eastern Europe. While countries like France, Luxembourg and Switzerland record CVD mortality rates of less than 80 deaths per 100,000 men under the age of 75; countries such as Belarus and Uzbekistan exceeded rates of more than 650 deaths per 100,000 men of the same age group. 

Among women under 75, the CVD mortality rate reduced to 35 deaths per 100,000 in countries such as Norway and Spain, as well as France and Switzerland. In Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan this figure rises to 350 deaths. Similar disparities among the under 65s were also recorded.

More than four million people die from CVD in Europe

These figures show the significance of cardiovascular disease’s impact on the population. Four million people die from it every year in Europe alone. In total, it causes the deaths of 49% of women and around 41% of men.

“Coronary heart disease kills 20% of women in Europe each year, while 2% die from breast cancer. I think it will surprise a lot of people to know how many women in Europe die from cardiovascular disease in relation to other diseases,” added Dr Townsend.

Although there has been a decrease in cases of cardiovascular disease, experts warn that the disparity between European countries, the high CVD mortality rate in comparison to other diseases and the increase in factors that cause the disease, such as obesity, should “be a wake-up call for health professionals around Europe”.

>>Watch: McGuinness MEP: ‘The high cost of poor cardiovascular health is enormous’

The “increase” in cases of obesity and diabetes will either “counter” that decrease, leading to a “reversal of the favourable trend”, or it will place an “extra burden” on health services in treating those at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

In addition, another study has found that excessive work could also have a negative impact on cardiovascular health. According to a publication in The Lancet, working more than 55 hours a week increases the chances of a cardiovascular event by 33% and the chances of developing coronary disease by 13%.

>>Read: Climate change increases risk of death from heart disease

A recent study by the German Weather Service found that high temperatures, heat waves and extreme temperature fluctuations pose an ever-increasing threat to the global population, with longer and more intense periods of heat posing a serious burden to the cardiovascular system.

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