MSPs fact-find visit to 'heart attack hotspot'

AN influential committee of MSPs is coming to Glasgow next month to investigate why people in poorer areas are still far more likely to die from heart disease.

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The Public Audit Committee will meet with patients, doctors and support groups in the city to look at how services can be improved.

The committee has heard from the Auditor General, how people in the most deprived areas are less likely to access treatment for heart disease and are less likely to survive a heart attack than people in more affluent areas.

While there has been improvement in Scotland's heart attack rates in recent years it is still the highest in western Europe and the figures for deprived areas show very limited signs of improvement .

Iain Gray, committee convenor, said it was important the committee got out of Edinburgh if it wants to speak to the people directly affected by the issues.

He said: "While death rates from all types of heart disease in Scotland have fallen by around 40% over the last 10 years, ours still remains the highest in Western Europe, and the figures are even higher for Scottish men, some of our ethnic groups, and for people living in our most deprived areas.

"Procedure rates for angio-plasty and the likes are significantly lower in our most deprived areas in Scotland with 20% fewer treatments on the NHS than would be expected.

"Figures from Audit Scotland tell us that patients in our most affluent areas have a 60% higher rate of access to cardiology services, which implies that access to treatment is far from equitable."

Researchers believe it may be less awareness of heart attack symptoms and higher rates of smoking that is contributing to the unusually high death rate.

Mr Gray wants his committee to hear first hand from patients. The committee will visit Drumchapel and see the Keep Well project and meet with staff and patients from the South Asian Anticipatory Care Pilot project.

In the afternoon Mr Gray will chair a meeting in the City Chambers hearing evidence from the British Heart Foundation, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Scottish Government.

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