Scotland has made good progress in reducing the numbers of people affected by heart disease, and in the Borders the number of deaths from heart disease has fallen by 44 per cent in those under 75 years.
A recently published Audit Scotland report on cardiology services looks at how effectively they are run, how much is spent, and whether patients across the country get the same access to services.
More than 182,000 people in Scotland, 3.3 per cent of the country’s population, have heart disease; it kills more than 8,000 people a year; and costs NHS Scotland at least £146 million a year.
The report found there has been significant progress in tackling heart disease and developing services; death rates have dropped by 40 per cent in 10 years, more patients are getting better treatment and waiting times have fallen.
However Scotland still has the highest rate of heart disease in western Europe, and Audit Scotland estimates at least £4.4 million a year could be saved by cutting prescribing costs, reducing hospital stays, treating more patients as day cases and using less invasive and cheaper tests to diagnose people.
Dr Paul Neary, consultant ardiologist and heart disease MCN Chair at NHS Borders said: “The Audit Scotland report mentions good progress in reducing deaths from heart disease in the country and this is also the case in Borders. Between 1995 and 2010 there was a 44% fall in deaths in those under 75 years.
“In large part this fall is because of people adopting healthier lifestyles preventing heart disease developing in the first place. More people turning away from smoking has had a particularly large effect, and they have been supported by the 2006 smoking ban and the local Quit4Good smoking cessation service. There is also evidence that rates are falling faster in more deprived areas, helped by services such as our local Keep Well service. This service assesses the risk of developing heart disease and stroke and helps people to reduce that risk through lifestyle change and where necessary treatment from their GP. Around 400 people each year are assessed by Keep Well in Hawick, Galashiels, Eyemouth, Kelso and Selkirk.
“For those who do develop heart disease, access to new treatments has also helped. NHS Borders works closely with Lothian hospitals to ensure local people have access to these new technologies.
“NHS Borders is committed to doing everything we can to reduce the impact of heart disease on our local population, both in terms of treatment and prevention. We will be examining this report and its suggestions carefully and considering what more we can do.”