Scottish Government
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Tackling premature death

Heart disease and stroke death rates in under 75s down.

Fewer people are dying from some of Scotland’s biggest causes of premature death.

Figures released today by National Records of Scotland show that for the specific illnesses of coronary heart disease and stroke, the death rate has fallen by 46 per cent between 2002 and 2012 for those under 75.

Cancer death rates have also fallen by 16 per cent between 2002 and 2012 for the under 75s. While the number of cases of cancer diagnosed has risen, due in part to an aging population, the figures show that cancer survival rates have increased due to earlier diagnosis, as well as advances in treatments and investment in staff and equipment.

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Mr Alex Neil said:

“Heart disease and stroke have been priorities for this Government and these statistics show a significant improvement. This is a fantastic achievement and shows our Heart Disease and Stroke Care Action Plan are properly focused on reducing the number of Scots dying from these preventable diseases.

“Our Detect Cancer early programme is investing £30 million across all NHS Boards to increase diagnostic capacity. More lives can be saved with early diagnosis so people need to recognise the signs and get checked if they are worried or suspect something is wrong. We are also maintaining our focus on preventing cancer by tackling the underlying risk factors, so again supporting people in better lifestyle choices so they eat and drink more sensibly, exercise more, and stop smoking.”

The number of alcohol related deaths has also dropped significantly to 1080 people last year – the lowest number of deaths where alcohol was an underlying cause since 1997.

While this reduction is welcomed, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing is clear that more needs to be done with minimum pricing being one of the most effective measures to tackle this problem.

Mr Alex Neil said:

“For too long, too many Scots have been drinking themselves into an early grave and we are looking to take bold measures to address alcohol misuse in Scotland. Although figures are down, alcohol related deaths are still far above the levels of the 1980s. As part of a range of measures, minimum pricing is an effective way to reduce alcohol consumption and the harm that overuse of alcohol does.

“What all these figures show is that by encouraging people to live healthier lives, eat better, be more active, stop smoking and drink sensibly, it can have a positive impact on their health and leads to a longer life.”

Notes to editors

Full details available on the NRS website:

Age-standardised death rates - http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/deaths/age-standardised-rates.html

Alcohol-related deaths - http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/deaths/alcohol-related/index.html

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