Boost in battle against heart disease

Heart disease, stroke, and lung disease are claiming much fewer deaths in Ireland than 30 years ago, according to a European survey.

However, lung cancer and self-harm is becoming common. Self-harm has nearly doubled in the past 20 years.

The survey was carried out among the 15 original members of the EU, including Ireland, along with Australia, Canada, Norway, and the US.

It found that heart disease claimed 81,000 deaths in 2010, a fall of 44% since 1990. Another 27,000 died from stroke, a drop of 39% since 1990. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease has also fallen, with 18,000 people dying from it in 2010, a drop of 34% since 1990.

Self-harm now accounts for 44% more deaths than it did in 1990. A total of 22,000 deaths were attributed to self-harm in 2010. Lung cancer deaths are also up, by 6% to 30,000 in 2010.

Our lung cancer figures contrast sharply with the UK where lung cancer deaths are down 15%.

Similar to Ireland, the UK recorded 41% and 28% decreases in deaths from heart disease and stroke.

Their figures show that death from Alzheimer’s disease is now 186% more common now than it was 20 years ago.

In contrast with Europe, heart disease in the US is up 14% and diabetes is up 72%. Deaths from lung cancer in the US have also increased by 14%.

The research shows that fewer people in Ireland are dying younger due to diseases.

Ireland move from 15th place to 12th among the 19 countries taking part in the survey. Our life expectancy at birth has risen from 18th to 13th place.

In contrast, the UK has dropped down the league table, with a disimproved performance under age-standardised death rates, years of life lost, and life expectancy at birth.

The only category in which Ireland fell down the league table was under ‘age standardised years lived with disability’, under which we dropped from third to ninth place.

Our lower rating in this category is believed to be due to the fact that thanks to advances in drugs, disabled people are now living longer with chronic conditions.

The researchers used data from the ‘Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study’. The research was published in The Lancet.

According to the authors, global programmes to fight infectious diseases, maternal and child illness, and malnutrition are working.

“They now cause fewer deaths and less illness than they did 20 years ago. As a result, fewer children are dying every year, but more young and middle-aged adults are dying and suffering from disease and injury, as non-communicable diseases such as cancer and heart disease become the dominant causes of death and disability worldwide,” the executive summary states.

“Since 1970 men and women worldwide have gained slightly more than 10 years of life expectancy overall, but they spend more years living with injury and illness.”


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