Dáil Éireann - Volume 541 - 03 October, 2001

Written Answers. - Heart Disease.

623. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people who died in 2000 due to cardiovascular heart disease; the way in which this figure compares to the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22125/01]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease, stroke – cerebrovascular disease, and related diseases of blood vessels. Overall there were 12,660 deaths from these diseases in Ireland in the year 2000, including 6629 from coronary ischaemic heart disease. These are provisional fig[462] ures. However, comparative data for 2000 for the UK are not yet available.

Figures from earlier years show that the rates, age standardised, are higher in Ireland than in the UK. This reflects higher death rates in Ireland from heart disease. Death rates from stroke are similar in Ireland to the UK and indeed are similar to the average for the EU.

Death rates from coronary heart disease vary substantially between the constituent countries of the UK. Rates are higher in Scotland and in Northern Ireland than in England and Wales, with a north-south gradient within England. Death rates are higher in Scotland than in Ireland. However, the death rates in Irish women started to decrease slowly in the 1960s. Rates have been decreasing rapidly in men and women throughout the British Isles since the mid-1980s.

Other countries such as the United States and Australia have experienced similar changes in the epidemic of cardiovascular diseases. The increased life expectancy and longer survival times of patients mean that larger numbers of older people are living with these diseases. This requires attention to the prevention of recurrent events, secondary prevention, as well as ongoing treatment for their conditions. With this in mind my Department developed in 1999 a strategy, Building Healthier Hearts, to address our high rate of cardiovascular disease. This strategy is being implemented in a planned and structured manner over a five year period. Our medium term goal is to reduce the rate of cardiovascular disease in line with the EU average and our long-term objective is to reach rates similar to those of the best performers in the EU.