Introduction Mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD) has dramatically reduced over the past 50 years in the UK. While this trend should be celebrated, it is important to consider mortality alongside trends in morbidity to gain a full understanding of how healthcare resources and prevention schemes should be directed. This paper reported trends in mortality, incidence and prevalence of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, heart attack, angina and heart failure over the past 50 years.
Methods Mortality data were provided by the UK national statistics agencies. For morbidity data we reviewed the peer-reviewed and grey literature for comparable estimates from different time points over the last 50 years.
Results Around half of the UK population died from CVD in the 1960s; by 2009 this had dropped to a third. CHD mortality rates have remained 30%–40% higher in Scotland than in England since 1961. Incidence rates for heart attack have decreased since the 1960s, while survival has improved; prevalence in those over 75 has increased by around 40% since the mid-1990s. Over the past 20 years heart failure incidence decreased by over a third in Scotland. Between 1970 and 1991, prevalence of angina nearly tripled for men over 75 and has continued to rise.
Conclusion Mortality from CVD has declined over the past 50 years, but striking geographic inequalities have remained. Incidence of two major CVD conditions have declined, but continuing increases in prevalence and an ageing population mean that the burden of CVD is still a major issue for the UK.
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