Town named heart disease hotspot
Ballymoney has the second highest heart disease rates in the UK, new figures have revealed.
People who live in the Co Antrim market town are among the most likely to die from a heart attack, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said.
Ballymoney was placed ahead of Glasgow - famed for its fried food culture - and London in the BHF list of heart disease hotspots, with 129 deaths per 100,000 over the last three years.
Ian Stevenson, a nurse who sits on Ballymoney Council, said: "It is a surprise. Unfortunately, this is not a statistic that you would want. You want people to be as healthy as possible and want people to be living longer."
Tameside in Greater Manchester topped the BHF list with 132 heart disease-related deaths in every 100,000.
Dr Allen McCullough, a Co Antrim GP, said public health messages about lifestyle were not being heard.
He said: "It is the old thing of diet and exercise. Public health messages are being heard to a degree but the people who pay heed to that advice are not the people that need to.In Ballymoney, as in Belfast, there would be an increase in the development of type 2 diabetes."
Dr McCullough said heart disease patients in rural parts of Northern Ireland also had to travel further for coronary care.
He added: "If you have a heart attack in Belfast, you can be stented as soon as possible. In more rural areas, there is not a dedicated cath (catheterisation) lab so you have to go on a list for Altnagelvin or Belfast."
A BHF spokeswoman said people in the affluent areas of Kensington and Chelsea, in London, have the healthiest hearts.