More than 20 deaths from heart attacks each week

Gwen Currie. Picture: Neil Hanna
Gwen Currie. Picture: Neil Hanna
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HEART attacks claim the lives of 21 working-age Scots each week as the number of people treated for the condition rose by a fifth, new analysis has revealed.

New analysis from the British Heath Foundation (BHF) revealed 1110 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.

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, 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.

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 6900 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 ten years, and are reducing faster in the most deprived 
areas.”

‘The worry never really leaves you, but you learn to live with it’

FIT healthcare coach Gwen Currie was going to the post office when she had a heart attack.

The 54-year-old was suddenly struck by a very heavy feeling in her chest. Paramedics took Gwen to hospital where she had a stent fitted.

Gwen, now 58, of Bonnington, said: “I was lucky – but it definitely shook my confidence.

“That worry never really leaves you, but you can learn to live with it and, in time, you can regain some of your old confidence.

“When you consider that coronary heart disease is our biggest single killer, you realise just how important the research is.”