06:23pm Saturday 11 July 2020

All-Ireland research reveals stark differences in rates of heart disease and disability among over 50s

Prevalence of heart disease and rates of associated disability are higher among men and those in lower socio-economic groups in both countries.

The study, led by Professor Frank Kee, Director of the Centre of Excellence and Deputy Director of the Centre for Public Health, examined the rates and impacts of heart disease among people over 50 by analysing existing datasets in Ireland, North and South.

It also found significant differences in health behaviours linked with the risk of heart disease. While rates of obesity and smoking in the over 50s are higher in the Republic of Ireland, rates of physical inactivity, diabetes and severe depression are higher in Northern Ireland.

The prevalence of coronary heart disease is 12% in Northern Ireland compared to 8% in the Republic of Ireland, while prevalence of limiting long-term illness is 80% higher in Northern Ireland. The research highlighted the particular vulnerability of men over 50 and people in lower socio-economic positions.

Professor Frank Kee said: “When examining datasets on health among older people in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland it is apparent that rates of heart disease and associated disability are higher in Northern Ireland. Significant differences also exist along socio-economic, gender and age lines. The findings illustrate the need to tackle key risk factors, especially physical inactivity among older people in Ireland, both north and south.”

Dr Roger O’Sullivan, Director of CARDI, welcomed the findings: “Heart disease remains a leading cause of death and disability in both parts of Ireland and high by European standards. The number of adults who will have heart disease in their lifetime is projected to rise rapidly as our population ages. These new findings emphasise the need to bring forward initiatives to reduce the risks of heart disease.

Further details on the research are available at www.cardi.ie.


Notes to editors


The research team consisted of Dr Sharon Cruise, Queen’s University Belfast; Mr John Hughes, Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency; Dr Kathleen Bennett, St James’s Hospital, Dublin; Dr Anne Kouvonen, Queen’s University Belfast and University of Helsinki; and Professor Frank Kee, Queen’s University Belfast.
The full report is entitled ‘Understanding disability in older heart disease patients in Ireland’. The research was funded by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI) under its 2013 data-mining funding programme. CARDI has prepared a research brief ‘Disability in older heart disease patients’ which summarises the main report and spells out some of the implications for policy and practice. Both are available at www.cardi.ie


Media contact: Nicola Donnelly at CARDI, tel (ROI): 086 7927684 or email: [email protected] 

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