Be careful with your heart
New research claims that nearly four million people in the UK may be unaware they are at high risk of heart disease. An University of Oxford team screened more than 71,000 people aged over 18 across England, Wales and Scotland.
The stark reality, shown by this report, is that people take the health of their heart for granted and it is not high on their agenda to check it is OK. "The findings of this new study, added to the fact that more than half a million people in the UK are unaware they have Type 2 diabetes, highlights the urgency and importance of the government's proposed screening programme," said Saranjit Sihota, Diabetes UK Head of Public Policy.
Plans are in place in England to screen everybody between the ages of 40 and 74 for cardiovascular disease. Scotland has so far not followed suit. There are 7.9 million people in the UK who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, or are known to be at risk of developing symptoms. One in three of those most at risk over the next 10 years remain undiagnosed, the study estimates. And it estimates that a further 2.8 million men and 900,000 women at high risk have not been diagnosed.
The problem is particularly severe among middle aged men, the study suggests. According to BBC, lead researcher Professor Andrew Neil, said: "Our findings reinforce the need for a national cardiovascular disease risk assessment programme."
"Ask anyone, particularly women, what they are most likely to die of and they will probably say cancer", said Barbara Harpham, national director of Heart Research UK to BBC. "In fact, it is cardiovascular disease, mostly due to our unhealthy lifestyles."
The Oxford study concludes that wider access to cholesterol-lowering statins is the only policy that is likely to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in the short term. It says more effective national nutritional policies and lifestyle measures would have a longer-term impact.
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