Thursday, 1 December 2011

Scotland's ten-year decline in heart disease and stroke deaths

Less than a week after we learned that the drop in smoking rates especially among Scotland's deprived communities has been disappointing, we discover that Scotland's heart and stroke deaths have dropped sharply over the last ten years, with most of the gains in deprived communities.

The source is Scotland's official source of figures: you can view the relevant chart by going to document MC1 (the top one) and clicking the tab at the bottom left hand side of the document (I don't know how to import an excel page into blogspot post).

The figures here are about the success of treatment rates – they concern an improvement in mortality after conditions have been treated, rather than prevention.  The impact that Professor Jill Pell's study declared was on hospitalisations, not deaths.

Taken together, what do we learn? The figures show no trace of the 17 per cent drop in heart attacks that were alleged to have followed the Scottish smoking ban: there is no sudden dip following 2006. There is also no real drop in smoking rates, making the claims originally made by Professor Jill Pell even more problematic (there can be no significant drop in smoke exposure if there is no significant drop in smoking rates). Finally there is a decline in heart attacks and stroke deaths in deprived areas, which have not seen a significant drop in smoking rates – although this is attributed to more successful treatment rather than a lower incidence.

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