Wales politics

Fewer deaths and cases of heart disease in Wales

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Media captionRuth Coombs, the head of British Heart Foundation Cymru, said further research was needed to improve treatment for patients

Fewer people are dying or suffering from heart disease in Wales, with falls in smoking and binge drinking helping.

Deaths have fallen by a quarter, from just over 12,000 in 2005 to just over 8,800 in 2014, according to the Heart Disease Annual Report.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said authorities would "build on the positive progress we've seen so far", on risk factors and diagnosis times.

The Welsh Conservatives said care still "lags behind the rest of the UK".

About one in 12 adults in Wales said in 2015 they were being treated for a heart condition.

The report said the fight against heart disease was a "national priority", describing it as "a major killer in Wales, particularly affecting our poorer communities".

'Time bomb'

It hailed success in tackling risk factors, such as the percentage of adults smoking falling from 23% in 2010 to 19% in 2015.

Former HGV driver Gerald Williams thought he was healthy, but tests by his doctor put him at a 32% risk of a stroke or heart attack.

"I could see something was not right by the look on her face when she took my blood pressure," said Mr Williams, 66, a former Ystrad Rhondda winger from Pentre.

"I had no idea my blood pressure was like a ticking time bomb."

Since his health check, he has kept an eye on his diet with the help of his wife and daughter, who is a nurse.

The introduction of community cardiology services was praised for diagnosing patients closer to home and much sooner than before.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board cut the waiting time for diagnosis from six to three months.

Image caption Vaughan Gething says there is 'positive progress' but admits there is more that can be done

Mr Gething welcomed a "positive report", saying: "The steady decline we've seen in the rate of people dying from all cardiovascular disease, alongside the fact that fewer people are suffering from heart disease, is something we're proud of.

"There's always further work to be done and the report outlines where improvement is needed.

"We'll take that on board and will build on the positive progress we've seen so far."

Welsh Conservative health spokeswoman Angela Burns said: "The fall in deaths linked to heart disease is encouraging, but the Welsh Government should not crack open the champagne just yet.

"Patients in Wales continue to receive care that lags behind the rest of the UK, with diagnosis currently taking 10 days longer in Wales than in England."

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