Deaths from heart and circulatory diseases increase

31st May 2019
Deaths from heart and circulatory diseases increase

(Image: Pixabay/Creative Commons)

Deaths from heart and circulatory diseases among people under 75 are on the rise for the first time in 50 years in the UK. In 2017 there were 42,384 deaths in under-75s up from 41,042 in 2014. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) says rising rates of diabetes and obesity is partly responsible.

Heart and circulatory diseases are a leading cause of death in the UK. Risk factors for developing heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and family history of the disease. According to the BHF, more than 14 million adults have high blood pressure with up to 5 million more unaware they have it.

Obesity rates have been steadily increasing for the past few decades and currently, around one in four adults are classed as obese. The rise in obesity has been accompanied by an increase in people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

The past few decades have seen improvements in treating and preventing heart disease, leading to better survival and long term prognosis, this was largely due to improvements in medicines and diagnosing heart disease.

In addition, implementing strategies to reduce heart disease risks, such as stopping smoking, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, helped to reduce the number of deaths associated with cardiovascular and heart disease. However, recent figures have suggested a slowdown in the improvements seen in cardiovascular and heart disease-related deaths in recent years.

Between 2007 and 2012 there was a fall of 25 per cent in the premature death rates for heart and circulatory disease in the UK but this was reduced to 9 per cent between 2012 and 2017.

The BHF says a slowdown in the rate of improvement in death rates combined with a growing population is partly to blame for the reversal it is now seeing. Changes in lifestyle factors such as eating and exercising habits need to be addressed in order to stop increases in premature deaths from heart disease.

Signs & symptoms of a heart attack
One of the major signs of a heart attack is pain, pressure, tightening or discomfort in your chest that suddenly occurs and does not go away.

The pain may spread to your left arm, neck, jaw, back and/or stomach. Call 999 if you suspect someone is having a heart attack. However, it is also important to remember that heart attacks are not always the dramatic event as depicted in many dramas, with people clutching their chest in pain.

Often people do not experience severe pain but instead feel an ache, a sense of discomfort or feel uncomfortable, breathless or nauseous. These symptoms can often be confused with indigestion or acid reflux. Such symptoms can be more common in the elderly and in women. Any lingering pain or ache should be checked out by a doctor.

Heart attacks in women
Women are more likely to be misdiagnosed as having a heart attack as they often do not present with chest pain indicative of a heart attack. In many cases, women fail to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack as they often do not feel the severe pain in the chest but instead often experience pain in their back, shoulder and jaw.

Shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, sweating and fainting are also common symptoms, which are then often mistaken for being overtired or having a bad cold or the flu.
It is therefore particularly important women recognise the signs of heart attacks and seek medical advice especially if they experience pain in the shoulder, back or jaw and feel unwell.

Rachel Kayani

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