Scotland politics

Scottish health statistics revealed

Image caption Ministers have committed to boosting heart rehabilitation services

Deaths from two of Scotland's "big three" killers - heart disease and stroke - have fallen in the past decade, according to official figures.

The proportion of people dying from coronary heart disease has reduced by 43% since 2002, with the figure for strokes down by 41%.

However, the fall means more people than ever are now having to live with the illnesses as long-term conditions.

Ministers said they were committed to boosting cardiac rehabilitation.

The figures on heart disease and stroke were published by ISD Scotland, the statistical wing of the health service.

It said hospital discharges for heart attacks increased by 51% between 2007-08 and 2011-12, which was put down to changes in the definition of "acute myocardial infarction".

The figures stated:

  • The standardised mortality rate for coronary heart disease was down 43.2% since 2002, while the rate for strokes fell by 41.8%
  • Between 2010 and 2011 there was an 8.1% drop in coronary heart disease deaths, with a 5.7% fall in stroke deaths over the same period
  • The incidence rate for coronary heart disease was down by 28.9% over the past decade, from 379 per 100,000 of the population in 2002-03 to 270 in 2011-12
  • The incidence rate for stroke was down 21.7% in the last decade, from 199 cases per 100,000 of the population in 2002-03 to 156 cases in 2011-12
  • Coronary heart disease, a "preventable" condition, kills about 8,000 people in Scotland each year.

Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil described the downward trend as "fantastic", but said there was more to do.

"More people are surviving heart attacks and living with heart disease - they need high access to high quality rehabilitation and support," he said.

"NHS Scotland has substantially increased access to cardiac rehabilitation in recent years, and we recognise the need to continue to improve services available for people with all heart conditions."

David Clark, chief executive of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, said the fall had come about through better treatment and people adopting healthier lifestyles.

But he added: "It also means more and more people are living with these illnesses as long-term conditions - nearly 250,000 Scots are living with heart disease, and more than 100,000 with stroke."

Mr Clark's comments were echoed by the British Heart Foundation.

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