Comment: Daily loss of 3 working-age lives is terrible

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there are few families who have not experienced at one time or another the sudden devastation which can be caused by a heart attack.

Despite great advances in our understanding of its causes, coronary heart disease remains Scotland’s single biggest killer, claiming the lives of more than 1100 working-age Scots every year. That is easy to forget when the spotlight so often falls on diseases such as cancer where we have a clearer understanding of the link between scientific research and saving lives.

Three deaths a day among working-age people is a horrendous death toll. And the impact of course is not only felt in the huge loss of life but in the trauma experienced by those left behind. For every person who dies in this way, there are children, partners, parents, siblings, and so on, who have to live with the pain of losing a loved one too soon.

We understand well these days how smoking and bad diet contributes to our risk of suffering a heart attack. Sadly that was not always the case, but we know now a lot of what we need to do.

But the medical knowledge surrounding heart disease is expanding all the time and we are discovering new links between lifestyle and heart health, such as the much greater than previously thought dangers linked with sitting still behind an office desk all day. There are areas yet where we still know relatively little, including the process which leads to the dangerous narrowing of the arteries, but there is every chance that advances in research may change that to dramatic effect in the coming years.

Some of the leading research is taking place right here at Little France at the internationally renowned Centre for Cardiovascular Science at Edinburgh University’s Queens Medical Research Institute. Donations to the British Heart Foundation help to fund their work and that of other pioneering scientists.