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Deaths from coronary heart disease increase to highest total in eight years

Scotland has seen a ‘gradual increase in the rate of deaths’ from coronary heart disease over the past four years, Public Health Scotland has warned (Jane Barlow/PA)
Scotland has seen a ‘gradual increase in the rate of deaths’ from coronary heart disease over the past four years, Public Health Scotland has warned (Jane Barlow/PA)

Deaths from coronary heart disease (CHD) have risen to the highest total for eight years, figures have showed.

The condition was a cause of death for 7,130 people in 2022, Public Health Scotland (PHS) data showed – the highest total since 2015.

The number of men who died as a result of the condition was higher than in 2013, the figures showed, with 4,369 fatalities amongst males in 2022 compared to 4,155 in 2013.

The incidence of coronary heart disease – a collective term which includes conditions such as heart attacks and angina as well as heart failure – also increased.

  • 4,369 male deaths
  • 2,761 female deaths

There were 18,567 cases recorded in 2022-23 – the highest since 2013-14 when the total was 18,937.

The figures were included in a report from PHS which warned: “Scotland has a high prevalence of the immediate risk factors associated with heart disease, such as smoking, obesity and high cholesterol.”

It stated that “whilst there has been a 14% reduction in deaths from coronary heart disease in Scotland over the last 10 years, there has been a gradual increase in the rate of deaths over the past four years”.

Stressing that treating and preventing heart disease is a “clinical priority for Scotland”, the report added that an estimated 7% of men and 4% of women are living with CHD.

Overall, the age and sex adjusted incidence rate for CHD has decreased by 11.9% from 391 per 100,000 population in 2013-14 to 344 per 100,000 population in 2022-23, the figures showed.

But the decline in incidence has “generally slowed in the last four years”, PHS said, adding that “incidence has actually increased in the last two years”.

The report also noted that, in 2022-23, incidence was 78% higher in the most deprived parts of Scotland than it was in the most affluent communities.

“Across all deprivation levels, there has been an increase in the incidence rate in the past two years,” it added.

Meanwhile, the overall incidence rate for heart failure has increased by 9.5%, going from 101 per 100,000 people in 2013-14 to 111 per 100,000 in 2022-23.

PHS said that the rate had “gradually increased” since 2014-15 before there was a “sharp decline in 2020-21”, although it said this was likely to be a consequence of the Covid pandemic.

The report added: “In 2022-23, the incidence rate for heart failure is the highest it has been in the past decade, especially for males in the 45-64 age range.”

Looking at heart attacks specifically, the report revealed the mortality rate for males in 2022 was similar to 2013.

That is despite the incidence rate for heart attacks falling by 8.9% from 238.7 per 100,000 of the population in 2013-14, to 217.6 in 2022-23.

The report also said the overall mortality rate for heart attacks had “decreased substantially over the last 10 years, falling by 6% from 84 per 100,000 population in 2013 to 79 in 2022”.

But it went on to state: “From 2014, however, there was a flattening in the rate of decline in the mortality rate of heart attacks followed by an increase since 2016.

“In 2022, the mortality rate for males was similar to the rate in 2013.”

Jane-Claire Judson, chief executive of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, said: “Heart disease remains Scotland’s biggest killer.

“Despite progress in reducing death rates over the last decade, the figures released today indicate progress in tackling heart disease has stalled.”

She called for action from ministers, saying: “The Scottish Government’s heart disease action plan highlights a focus on prevention as its key priority in addressing heart disease rates in Scotland.

“Yet we’re now seeing heart disease deaths go up – we need to see the Government do much more to support people to live healthy lifestyles.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We welcome the news that the rate of new cases of coronary heart disease has fallen by 12% over the last decade.

“However, we recognise the gradual increase in the rate of deaths over the past four years.

“Our heart disease action plan sets out our priorities and actions to minimise preventable heart disease and ensure that people with suspected heart disease have timely and equitable access to diagnosis, treatment and care.”