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U.K. CVD Report Reveals Age, Gender, and Class Disparities

— July 5, 2024

CVD continues to carry with it a high mortality rate worldwide. The U.K. isn’t immune.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a significant public health concern and the leading cause of death worldwide, with recent data from the World Heart Federation (WHF) suggesting CVD has risen 60% surge over the past three decades.

Professor Fausto Pinto, co-author of the WHF’s report and the agency’s former president, said, “The data doesn’t lie. This report confirms the serious threat that cardiovascular disease poses all over the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries [and] up to 80 percent of premature heart attacks and strokes can be prevented.”

The United Kingdom hasn’t been immune. Supporting the finding’s in WHF’s report, a comprehensive population-based study conducted in the U.K. over nearly two decades provides insight into how the region has been impacted, specifically highlighting disparities based on age, gender, and socioeconomic status.

The study, published in BMJ, involved more than 1.6 million people registered with general practices contributing to the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. These individuals were newly diagnosed with at least one cardiovascular disease between January 1, 2000, and June 30, 2019. The study focused on ten specific CVDs, including, acute coronary syndrome, aortic aneurysm, aortic stenosis, atrial fibrillation or flutter, chronic ischemic heart disease, heart failure, peripheral artery disease, heart block, stroke, and venous thromboembolism. The rates were standardized for age and gender using the 2013 European standard population for comparisons.

U.K. CVD Report Reveals Age, Gender, and Class Disparities
Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Of the ten CVDs, the age and gender standardized incidences declined by 19% over the study period. This decline was particularly notable for coronary heart disease and stroke, falling by nearly 30%. The incidence rate ratios for acute coronary syndrome, chronic ischemic heart disease, and stroke were 0.70, 0.67, and 0.75, respectively, indicating significant reductions. However, the rate of cardiac arrhythmias, valve diseases, and thromboembolic conditions all increased. Given this, overall incidence of CVDs remained relatively stable during the study period.

Taking age into consideration, the report revealed that the decline in coronary heart disease was most prevalent in individuals older than 60 years. Younger age groups did not show improvement, which researchers noted was worth looking into further and perhaps tailoring proactive interventions for the younger population to prevent disease in the future. Rates were similar between men and women.

A significant socioeconomic correlation was observed for nearly all categories, and this remained consistent over time. It was most evident for peripheral artery disease, acute coronary syndrome, and heart failure.

Given the lack of improvement in younger age groups, targeted interventions are necessary to address the specific risk factors and behaviors plaguing this age group. Public awareness campaigns and advocacy should continue to promote healthy lifestyle choices to ward of cardiovascular diseases. Policies and interventions addressing health inequities faced by certain socioeconomic populations should also be taken into consideration. Interventions including improving affordability and access to healthcare for lower socioeconomic groups are critical factors.

In general, more concerted efforts need to be taken not only by U.K. officials, but in other countries around the globe, to address the high prevalence of CVD with the ultimate goal of lowering related diagnoses in the future.


Deaths from cardiovascular disease surged 60% globally over the last 30 years: Report

Trends in cardiovascular disease incidence among 22 million people in the UK over 20 years: population based study

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