Heart and stroke treatments 'a substantial burden' to the UK
Hospital visits for heart disease and stroke patients are increasing, according to new figures.
There were 1.69 million hospital visits, including ordinary admissions and day cases, for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 2013 to 2014 across the UK, which is up from 1.64 million in 2010 to 2011.
The UK death rate for CVD has fallen from around 341,000 deaths in 1979 to 155,000 deaths in 2014 and up to seven million people in the UK are currently living with cardiovascular disease, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) funded research which is to be published in the journal Heart.
The BHF says that better diagnosis and treatments have helped to dramatically cut the number of deaths from heart disease and stroke while an increasing and ageing population may be prompting the higher numbers of hospital visits.
It is also calling for more research to help prevent, diagnose and treat heart disease as the increasing hospital visits for CVD is placing a massive burden on the healthcare system.
The Oxford University researchers, commissioned by the BHF, looked at a range of materials including trends in hospital admissions, prevalence, and treatment data along with mortality and population data from the UK's national statistics agencies.
They also looked at a range of surveys including Health Surveys of England and Scotland General Lifestyle Survey (GLS) along with data on hospital admissions and diagnosis from National Health Service records.
The researchers suggested that potentially higher levels of deprivation might help to explain why Scotland had the highest death rates and prevalence of CVD in the UK.
They found that 4.3% of Scotland's population was living with coronary heart disease, compared with 3.9% of those living in both Wales and Northern Ireland, and 3.3% in England.
Coronary heart disease death rates decreased by 72% in England, 70% in Wales, 71% in Scotland and 76% in Northern Ireland between 1979 and 2013.
Researcher Dr Nick Townsend said: "Despite large reductions in mortality from CVD, coronary heart disease (CHD), and stroke, these conditions have remained a substantial burden to the UK, with rises in treatment and hospital admissions for all CVD."
Immediate hospital treatment is the best option for someone who is suffering a heart attack or stroke, according to Professor Peter Weissberg of the BHF.
He called for more research to try and find a way to eradicate atherosclerosis, a potentially serious condition where arteries become clogged with fatty substances.