Heart disease is the major cause of death in more affluent developed countries. There are a number of causes detailed below.
Heart disease lowers the life expectancy of a country as a whole but can also vary between different regions. Glasgow has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the UK and lower life expectancy as a result.
Heart disease can also lead to an inability to work which can put a strain on support services and benefits. Health costs increase as a result and more hospital beds may be required which puts an additional burden on the NHS. Children can also inherit heart disease from their parents.
Education is the most commonly used method to trying to prevent heart disease. Better treatment of the condition has also had an effect on improving the outlook of people with heart disease.
Charities such as the British Heart Foundation have helped to combat heart disease by funding research into both the causes of the disease and potential new ways to treat it. They also organise and fund campaigns to educate people. These focus on eating a better diet, giving up smoking, reducing stress levels and taking more exercise.
The National Health Service works to prevent heart disease by ensuring people get regular health check-ups to detect early signs of heart disease. They also invest in new techniques such as the use of pacemakers, heart transplants, bypasses and replacing faulty heart valves with artificial ones.
There is evidence to suggest that in the majority of cases these campaigns are having a positive effect.
People are now eating a better diet and there are more regular check-ups.
Smoking levels have been reduced.
There are more advanced treatments now available.
However, people are still not taking enough exercise and there is no evidence that stress levels are decreasing.