Heart Attacks Declining in UK

Decrease May Become Negated by Increasing BMI

June 12, 2011 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Much like the rest of the world, the United Kingdom has long grappled with trying to convince citizens to maintain healthier lifestyles in an effort to curb the risk of heart attacks.

That plan seems to have finally come to fruition with a decrease in overall heart attacks. But an increase in body mass index during the same period seems to be negating some of that benefit.

"Eat healthier and exercise to reduce your risk of heart disease."

New research published in the European Heart Journal shows that from 1985 to 2004 better control of cholesterol and blood pressure and a reduction in smoking contributed to a 74 percent drop in the risk of heart attacks among nearly 10,000 civil servants working in London over the 20 year period.

But the risk would have dropped even more significantly if many of those individuals had not become obese. The subsequent rise in BMI added an 11 percent risk of heart disease over that period, which equated to an annual decline of 6.5 percent.

More than half of the reduction in heart attack risk was attributed to more proactive lifestyles including declining levels of bad HDL cholesterol, an increase in good cholesterol intake, lowered blood pressure and a reduction in smoking.

Some of the hypertension reduction may have been because of cholesterol-lowering drugs. A smaller contribution was noted from the greater consumption of fruits and vegetables. Those five factors lowered the risk by a combined 56 percent.

University College London Medical School researchers suggested the increase in BMI could have led to an increase in the incidence of heart attacks during the period of the study if not for the favorable trends.

Additional research would be needed to determine what other factors helped to contribute to the reduction in heart attack risk. Factors such as physical activity and alcohol consumption had no notable impact.

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Review Date: 
June 9, 2011
Last Updated:
June 12, 2011