~ British Heart Foundation says urgent research is needed to target causes of heart attack ~
Heart attacks kill nearly 2,200 people prematurely each year in Yorkshire and the Humber, new figures from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) have revealed.
The charity estimates that more than 22,000 people under the age of 75 across the UK suffered a fatal heart attack, in 2014. The figures have been released as the BHF launches a new campaign to highlight how heart conditions, including heart attack, suddenly devastate families across the country on a daily basis.
A heart attack strikes someone every three minutes in the UK – with almost 188,000 heart attacks treated in UK hospitals in 2013/2014. This figure is up from 175,000 the year before, which the charity says could be due to better diagnosis and recording. Despite improvements in treatment and diagnosis, around a third of heart attacks are fatal.
Although figures remain high, medical research, much of it funded by the BHF, has significantly improved heart attack survival rates through better diagnosis and treatments. However, the BHF – which funds more than £27million of research in the region – says more research is urgently needed to save more lives and combat the main cause of heart attack – coronary heart disease (CHD).
Around 216,000 people in Yorkshire and the Humber are living with CHD and it remains the UK’s single biggest killer. Yet we understand remarkably little about atherosclerosis – the process that causes narrowing of the coronary arteries and potentially fatal heart attacks.
Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Through medical research, we’ve made great progress in saving the lives of people suffering from heart attacks. But we mustn’t be lulled into thinking we’ve beaten the disease. Every year thousands of people are still dying from heart attacks, and coronary heart disease remains the UK’s single biggest killer.
“We urgently need to fund more research to find new ways to prevent and treat heart attacks, and ultimately, save more lives. Despite knowing some of the lifestyle and genetic factors that increase the risk of heart attack, we still have no way to stop the furring of the arteries in coronary heart disease that is responsible for causing so many heart attacks. This is a challenge that only research can provide the answer to.”
Kieron Morris, 33, lost both his parents to sudden heart attacks when he was in his twenties. Wendy, a part-time nurse, was just 50 years old when she collapsed at work. Kieron’s father Richard died suddenly, aged 55, at a friend’s birthday party.
Kieron said: “Nothing can prepare you for getting a phone call out of the blue and finding out your mum has had a heart attack, or watching your own father keel over in front of you.
“Losing both parents to heart attacks was such a shock. They were both happy, healthy people going about their daily lives – you just don’t expect your loved ones to be torn away from you like that.”
“Heart disease is so cruel, it takes people without warning. That’s why it’s so important that we fund research to fight heart disease and prevent others going through the suffering I have been through.”
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Every week heart attacks devastate hundreds of families across the UK, by killing loved ones at an early age and leaving many others with debilitating heart conditions that make the rest of their life a daily struggle.
“The only way we can find new ways to prevent and treat heart attacks is by funding more research. Thanks to the generous donations of our supporters, much of the research we’ve funded over the last 50 years is today helping to save and improve lives. We now need the continued backing of our supporters and the general public if we’re to make the advances that could save even more lives from heart disease.”
Coronary heart disease (CHD) kills around 7,000 people in Yorkshire and the Humber each year and most of these deaths are caused by a heart attack.
The BHF currently funds around £100 million of new research in to heart and circulatory disease each year. But the charity says it is completely reliant on the continued support and donations of its supporters. To help the British Heart Foundation fight back against this killer, visit bhf.org.uk/fightback.