Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, University College London and Imperial College London compared heart disease rates in Scotland and England. As expected, they found the rates are much (62%) higher in Scotland. However, then they tried to explain the higher rates by taking account of differences in wealth, health behaviours such as smoking, drinking and taking exercise and other biological characteristics such as cholesterol levels.
Principal investigator Dr Richard Mitchell, of the University of Edinburgh said: "We found that Scots are more likely to be in worse economic situations, to have had problems with drinking, to smoke --and those who do smoke, smoke more than English smokers-- and less likely to take exercise. However, these differences do not explain much of the higher rate of heart disease in Scotland. Even after taking account of personal economic circumstances, health behaviours and blood chemistry ,including cholesterol levels, the average Scot is still 50% more likely to have heart disease than the average English person. We think that there may be unknown genetic, behavioural or environmental factors which make Scots more at risk of heart disease.
He added: "This was a really surprising result. We expected to find that Scots have higher rates of heart disease just because they tend to be less wealthy and tend to have less healthy lifesty
Contact: Linda Menzies
University of Edinburgh