Cardiovascular Disease Rates Declined

Heart disease and stroke death rates dropped in most European countries but hospitalizations increased

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) In the US, death rates from heart disease and stroke have declined over the past two decades. In Europe, the trend is similar, although heart-related hospitalizations have been increasing.

New research suggests that fewer people in Europe are developing cardiovascular disease. Death rates, however, vary greatly from country to country. Recent research highlights the overall positive trend regarding mortality rates. The report stresses, however, that heart disease continues to be a serious health burden, and more people are being hospitalized with cardiovascular issues.

"Exercise regularly and eat healthy foods to lower cardiovascular risks."

The study was led by Dr. Melanie Nichols, research associate from the British Heart Foundation Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention at the University of Oxford (UK) and senior research fellow at Deakin University in Australia.

Dr. Nichols and colleagues reviewed data from a number of European and international sources. They focused on information regarding deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Sources showed trends over a 10-year period (ending between 2010 and 2012 in most countries).

Scientists observed that CVD death rates had fallen in most of Europe. In 25 countries, the rate of people dying after being admitted to the hospital with a heart attack dropped an average of 5 percent in the past five years.

Co-author Nick Townsend, PhD, a senior researcher at the BHF Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention, attributed improvements in heart health to improvements in behavior and use of medication.

He said that these factors include “decreases in the number of people smoking tobacco, along with better treatments, including preventive ones, such as the increasing use of statins” in a recent press release.

Sarah Samaan, MD, cardiologist and physician partner at the Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, TX, told dailyRx News that doctors have been treating high cholesterol more aggressively with statin therapy.

“Despite some negative press, when used appropriately, these drugs clearly save lives, and often for a very low cost,” she said.

Dr. Townsend warned, however, that rising rates of obesity could reverse the gains made in combating CVD.

The study authors also noted that hospitalizations in Europe for CVD had risen. This could have been due to a growing elderly population, they noted.

“Increased rates of hospitalization are an important observation that emphasizes the continued high burden of CVD in European populations despite dramatic decreases in age-adjusted mortality rates,” the authors wrote.

Dr. Samaan said that data from this study mirrors a recent report from the Yale-based Center of Outcomes Research and Evaluation that appeared in the journal Circulation.

“Over the past 10 years, the US has seen a 38 percent drop in hospitalizations for heart attack, a 33 percent drop in stroke, and a nearly 84 percent drop in hospitalizations for unstable heart symptoms,” Dr. Samaan said.

In some countries, CVD-related death rates remained high. For example, these rates were six times higher in Russia than France (after adjusting for age).

While more men died prematurely from CVD, a greater proportion of women died from this condition.

Half a million men died before the age of 65. Just under 1 million died before the age of 75, according to the study. Just over 200,000 women died before the age of 65. Half a million women died before the age of 75.

Dr. Townsend pointed out that 51 percent of women died, compared to 42 percent of men.

The study was published online Aug. 19 in the European Heart Journal.

The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 21, 2014
Last Updated:
August 25, 2014