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A groundbreaking new study has shed light on how the landscape of heart disease has evolved in the UK over the past two decades. Researchers analyzed electronic health records from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD GOLD and Aurum), encompassing a representative cohort of 22 million individuals. This included 1,650,052 people newly diagnosed with at least one cardiovascular disease (CVD) between 2000 and 2019, with an average age of 70.5 years, of whom 48% were women.

The study was conducted by a consortium of experts from four European Universities - the University of Oxford, KU Leuven, the University of Glasgow, and the University of Leicester.

Key Findings: Progress and New Challenges

  • Overall decline in heart disease: The study found a 19% drop in the overall incidence (ie. the number of new diagnoses) of heart-related diseases from 2000 to 2019, including major reductions in heart attacks and strokes, with incidences down by about 30%.
  • Rising cases of other conditions: While heart attacks and strokes have decreased, the study reports an increase in diagnoses of other heart conditions such as irregular heartbeats, valve problems, and blood clots. As a result of these varying trends, the overall incidence of cardiovascular disease across the ten conditions investigated have remained relatively stable since the years 2007-2008.
  • Age differences: Most of the improvements in heart health have been seen in people over 60. Younger age groups, however, haven’t experienced the same positive trends.
  • Economic disparities: The study highlights a troubling gap in heart disease rates between the rich and poor. People in the most deprived areas are nearly twice as likely to suffer from certain heart conditions compared to those in wealthier areas.

Read the full story on the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health website.