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Cardiac Disease in Ireland

Human heart
  • Coronary heart disease is the Ireland’s biggest killer
  • Approximately 10,000 die from it each year
  • 50% of men and 64% of women who have a fatal heart attack or stroke never knew they had the disease
  • 50% of all fatal heart attack and stroke victims had normal blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Women are 12 times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer
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Cardiac Disease Kills 27 People in Ireland Every Day

Cardiovascular disease is Irelands greatest killer with almost 10,000 people dying every year from conditions such as coronary heart disease and congestive cardiac failure (heart failure); cerebral (brain) conditions such as stroke; and peripheral (limb) conditions such as peripheral vascular disease. The main base cause of heart disease is atherosclerosis whereby blood vessels narrow or become completely blocked. It is most dangerous when it affects the blood supply to the heart, causing angina or heart attack, or the blood supply to the brain, causing stroke.

As stated previously, heart disease is the main cause of death in Ireland. Even though there have been significant advances over recent decades, death rates for cardiovascular disease continue to compare unfavourably with other developed countries. Cardiac disease is a substantial contributor to shorter lifespan in Irish people compared to that of many neighbouring countries.

Deaths from ischemic heart disease including heart attack was rising up to the 1970s when it peaked at 54% of Irish deaths in 1974. Since the mid-1970s the trend has been heading downwards. Death rates in Ireland from stroke have been declining steadily since the 1970s and the mortality rate from stroke is slightly below the European average. However, poor risk factor profiles, such as increasing obesity and diabetes in the population, now suggest a potential reversal of the previous decade’s mortality achievements.

Stroke in Ireland

Every year up to 10,000 Irish people have a stroke and of those about one fifth die. This is a greater number of deaths than breast cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer all together. Approximately 30,000 people in Ireland are living with a range of disabilities as a direct result of a stroke. This makes stroke the third highest cause of death in Ireland and stroke is the single largest cause of acquired disability.

"Current cardiovascular disease risk profiles in Ireland, coupled with international trends, must now provide a national ‘wake-up call’ to the health sector and beyond – that the cardiovascular health of the nation is in a precarious state. Cardiovascular health needs to be robustly addressed at both population and individual level."

Source: Dept of Health and Children report : Changing Cardiovascular Health - National Cardiovascular Health Policy 2010 – 2019


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