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Heart Diseases: Irish

Volume 458: debated on Monday 26 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of research on the risk faced by Irish people in England dying prematurely from heart disease compared to other groups; and what steps are being taken by her Department to address this risk. (128207)

The Health Survey for England 2004 supplement, The Health of Minority Ethnic Groups, collected information from the seven largest minority ethnic groups in England including Black Caribbean, Black African, Indian, Pakistan, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Irish. The general population survey reported that cardiovascular disorder diagnosed by a doctor was most prevalent in Irish men and women.

The survey also looked at risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Significantly, it shows that Irish men were more obese and that their prevalence for smoking and drinking was higher than the general population. Irish women have higher blood pressure and both drink and smoke more than the general population. These are all risk factors for CVD which includes coronary heart disease (CHD).

The Department has an overarching target to improve mortality for CVD which incorporates a specific target for tackling health inequalities:

To improve the health of the population by substantially reducing the mortality rates by 2010, (from the OHN baseline, 1995-97) from heart disease and stroke related diseases by at least 40 per cent. in people under 75, with at least a 40 per cent. reduction in the inequalities gap between the fifth of areas with the worst health and deprivation indicators and the population as a whole.

Those areas with the worst health and deprivation indicators have been designated Spearhead primary care trusts. They are responsible for designing and delivering services to meet the needs of their local population, taking account of issues such as ethnic mix. Latest data show continued improvements in CVD mortality inequalities with a 27.9 per cent. reduction in the absolute CVD inequality gap. This has been achieved by promoting healthier lifestyles and with the increased distribution of preventative drugs such as statins.