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Substantial potential for reductions in coronary heart disease mortality in the UK through changes in risk factor levels
  1. J A Critchley,
  2. S Capewell
  1. Department of Public Health, University of Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr J Critchley, Department of Public Health, Whelan Building, Quadrangle, The University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GB, UK;


Study objective: The UK government called for a 40% reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality in those aged under 75 by 2010. This paper examines the potential for cardiovascular risk factor changes to reduce coronary heart disease deaths in Scotland, and then extrapolates the findings to the UK population.

Design: Secondary analysis of published data using a previously validated mortality model. The model combines uptake and effectiveness of treatments with risk factor trends by sex and age group. It was used to estimate the expected reductions in coronary heart disease mortality: (a) if recent risk factor trends simply continued; (b) if additional risk factor reductions were achieved in line with Scandinavia and the United States. An “analysis of extremes” sensitivity analysis was then carried out.

Setting: Scotland and UK.

Participants: Projected Scottish population aged 45+ in 2010 (2.4 million) and UK population of 26.8 million.

Main results: Continuation of current trends would result in 2169 fewer coronary deaths in 2010 (minimum estimate 1191 from sensitivity analyses to maximum 3870). About 4749 fewer deaths (minimum 3085, maximum 7155) could be achieved by: (a) a reduction in smoking prevalence from 30% to 18% (about 1668 fewer deaths); (b) a mean population cholesterol reduction from 6.2 to 5.2 mmol/l (about 2167 fewer deaths); (c) a 3.7 mm Hg fall in diastolic blood pressure (about 914 fewer deaths). Extrapolation from the Scottish population to the UK suggests 24 000 fewer deaths in 2010 if current trends continue, or 53 000 fewer deaths with the additional reductions.

Conclusions: With additional interventions it would be possible to almost halve current UK coronary heart disease mortality. Even without gains from medical treatments, the UK government target of 28 000 fewer deaths in 2010 does not seem challenging.

  • coronary heart disease
  • epidemiological modelling
  • risk factors

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  • Funding: JC and SC are both employed by the University of Liverpool, with funding from HEFCE.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.

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