Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk in 2021
A wide range of factors contribute to our health and wellbeing including our age, genetics, illnesses, diet and exercise routine. The same is true of where we live.
Studies have shown that living in certain countries puts you at greater risk for some health problems, and can even influence how long you are expected to live. However, it can be even more specific than that.
Just within the UK there are noticeable discrepancies in health and longevity among residents living in different cities. This is linked to a number of reasons such as access to healthcare and disparities in income.
As an example, data has shown that people in parts of the UK are as much as three times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than others. One city, in particular, is the worst hit.
According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) people in Glasgow are at greater risk of dying from the disease than anywhere else in the UK.
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Residents of the Scottish city who are aged under 75 are actually over three times more likely to die than people living in Mid Sussex in the south east of England.
Figures from between 2018 and 2020 show that the premature (meaning under the age of 75) death rate from cardiovascular disease in Glasgow was 134 per 100,000 people.
In Mid Sussex, this figure was just 39 per 100,000.
Annually around 606 people in Glasgow die from the disease, significantly higher than anywhere else in the UK.
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The second worst-affected city in the UK is Blackpool in the north west of England.
Here, there are an average of 126 premature cardiovascular disease deaths a year per 100,000 people. And overall there are 167 deaths per year.
The other cities with high rates of early cardiovascular disease deaths were Manchester with 122 per 100,000, West Dunbartonshire in Scotland with 114 and Sandwell in the West Midlands with 114.
In 2016, a report into the health of Glasgow noted how there is an excess in deaths in general in the city compared to other parts of the UK and looked into why that was the case.
Commenting on this, the Scottish Public Health Observatory said: “Those causes are complex, multiple and interwoven.
“In Glasgow’s case, the main finding was that the city’s population was made more vulnerable to factors which impacted on health across the UK (e.g poverty, deprivation, deindustrialisation, economic decisions taken at UK government level), consequently leading to poorer health than in other places which had similar experiences.”
Looking at the wider picture, the BHF reported that overall early deaths from cardiovascular disease were most common in the north of England, central Scotland and the south of Wales.
They were lowest in the south of England.
Cardiovascular disease refers to any diseases that affect the heart and circulatory system such as coronary heart disease, strokes and heart failure.
It is one of the biggest killers in the UK, accounting for around a quarter of all fatalities every year.
Common risk factors for the disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Being physically inactive
- Being overweight or obese
- Family history of heart disease
- Ethnic background
- Sex – men are more at risk than women
If you are concerned about your heart health you should speak to your GP.
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