London: Indians have the highest rate of
heart disease in the UK, according to latest research the
University of Oxford.
The burden of heart disease among ethnic minorities is
revealed in the new report compiled by Oxford University
researchers for the British Heart Foundation.
The figures suggest that while the South Asian
population suffers the highest rates of heart disease, many
could be missing out on access to some treatments.
The publication, Ethnic Differences in Cardiovascular
Disease 2010, reports that 27 per cent of deaths in men born
in South Asia and living in the UK are from heart disease,
compared with 18 per cent in men born in the UK.
Lead author of the report, Dr Peter Scarborough from
Oxford`s Department of Public Health, said: "The report
confirms what was already generally known about ethnic
differences in the burden of cardiovascular disease ? that
South Asians in the UK suffer more coronary heart disease than
the white population".
Diabetes is also more prevalent in the South Asian
population, while the black population has a higher risk of
The reasons for differences between ethnic groups
living in the UK are not fully understood.
Scarborough explained: "There are a number of
different influences that could have an effect -- genetic
differences, socio-economic differences, and differences in
factors that can raise the risk of heart disease, such as
smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol
This report shows that there are differences in risk
factors within the ethnic groups in the UK, but it is
difficult to assess how much these translate to the experience
of heart disease.
Despite the higher rates of heart disease among some
ethnic minorities, white patients are twice as likely as South
Asian patients to receive angioplasty or a heart bypass
For every 100 hospital cases of heart disease in white
people, there are around 10 such procedures, whereas for every
100 hospital cases for heart disease in South Asian people
there are just four.
"We also found that the South Asian and black
population in the UK may not be receiving the same level of
treatment for coronary heart disease (CHD) as the white
population," said Scarborough.
"In England in 2007, the rate of angioplasty and
bypass procedures conducted in white patients for CHD was
twice as high as in South Asian patients and three times as
high as in the black population".
"It is likely that some of the difference is due to
lower levels of need for angioplasty or bypass in South Asian
and black patients than in white patients," he added.
However, studies conducted in the early-2000s did show
that, after adjusting for the need of procedure, South Asians
still had a lower rate of treatment than white patients.
"We need to have a better understanding of how much of
the inequalities in access to angioplasty and bypass is due to
differences in need for these procedures, and how much is due
to genuine inequalities to access due to ethnicity.
"Then we can begin to investigate the reasons for this
inequality and how we can tackle it," he said.
Qaim Zaidi, Ethnic Strategy Co-ordinator at the
British Heart Foundation, said: "South Asians may face a
number of barriers when trying to access vital treatments
which could prolong their lives".
"They could encounter language difficulties, services
may not be culturally appropriate or they may not be aware of
the services that are available to them.