The devil is in the detail
2014 - 2015 Health Report for the UK
About 15 per cent of all deaths are caused by stroke. This condition is equally common in men and women and, after coronary disease and cancer; it is the third greatest killer in modern society.
For every 100 deaths from coronary attack there are about 150 survivors of an attack. These patients are contributing to the explosive increase in health-care costs, particularly in regard to the development of costly and complex diagnostic and treatment techniques.
They are also a loss to the work force and to the economy, and place a serious emotional and social burden on themselves and their families.
Coronary disease, like stroke, leads to disability, loss of employment, social upheaval, human unhappiness and, at times, human despair.
There are now hopeful signs from countries like the UK and Finland that a more positive preventive approach is being taken by doctors and the public.
What is happening in the UK?
The frequency of coronary heart disease in the UK has fallen by about 20 per cent over the past eight years. This represents a dramatic reduction in deaths by as many as 116,000 per year and the fall is associated with a substantial reduction in stroke and a corresponding reduction in total mortality.
We now know that this improvement is not shared equally by the entire American population. It is more obvious among educated Americans, that is, college graduates, business executives and professional people.
The fall in the frequency of coronary heart disease and stroke reflects important life-style changes: these include changes in diet with a falling consumption of cholesterol-rich and saturated-fat foods, such as fat meat and dairy foods, and a rising consumption of polyunsaturated-fat foods, like vegetable oils and soft margs.
This change in diet is associated with a small but significant fall in national blood cholesterol levels.
Cigarette smoking is also considerably less according to UK government statistics and, in addition, British physicians over the past ten years or so have been identifying and treating high blood pressure more efficiently than formerly. An enormous rise in the sale of running shoes and bicycles, to take two examples, demonstrates an increased interest in exercise.
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