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Fatal heart attacks strike 200 people every week

Almost 10,000 working people in the UK had a fatal heart attack last year

Adrian O'Dowd

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

As many as 10,000 people of working age in the UK died of a heart attack in 2014, according to new figures.

The charity the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said this meant that around 200 people aged under 65 in the UK died every week last year this way, underlining the need for greater efforts to tackle heart disease.

BHF’s figures were obtained by analysing the latest UK mortality data from the Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

The figures were released to coincide with the BHF launching a new campaign to highlight how heart conditions, including heart attack, can suddenly affect families across the country every day.

According to BHF’s analysis of latest hospital episode statistics, a heart attack strikes someone every three minutes in the UK - with almost 188,000 heart attacks treated in UK hospitals in 2013-2014.

This figure rose from 175,000 the year before, most likely due to better diagnosis and recording.

Despite improvements in treatment and diagnosis, around a third of heart attacks were fatal, said BHF.

Although medical research had helped to significantly improve heart attack survival rates, more research was urgently needed to save more lives and combat the main cause of heart attack – coronary heart disease.

Around 2.3 million people in the UK are estimated to be living with coronary heart disease and it remains the nation’s single biggest killer.

Professor Peter Weissberg, BHF medical director, 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 the UK’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. Despite knowing some of the lifestyle and genetic factors that increase the risk of heart attack, we still have no way to stop the furring of the arteries in coronary heart disease that is responsible for causing so many heart attacks. This is a challenge that only research can provide the answer to.”

The charity’s chief executive Simon Gillespie said: “Every week heart attacks devastate hundreds of families across the UK, by killing loved ones at an early age 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.”

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