UK heart health is in worrying shape

Related tags Heart disease Hypertension

More than half the people tested in a UK-wide pharmacy initiative
were found to be at risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to
heart disease. This underlines the WHO's call last week for
consumers to take preventative steps against this illness and the
increasing opportunities for functional food companies to market
heart-healthy products.

The research revealed today at the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) by Moss Pharmacy showed that of the 1,675 patients who had their blood pressure checked, more than two thirds were aged between 16-64, and less than a third were over 65, the age associated by many as the turning point for heart disease risk.

"Many people, especially the younger population, are totally unaware that they either have high blood pressure or have a combination of factors that place them at serious risk of developing heart disease,"​ said Chris Street, Moss Pharmacy's health and pharmacy advisor.

Street added that: "More than 120,000 people die from heart disease every year in the UK. All of us need to be aware of how we can look after ourselves through diet, exercise and lifestyle choices to help reduce the risk of heart disease"​.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for consumers to use prevention as a tool in the battle against heart disease. Highlighting that nearly one in three people in the world die from heart disease each year, the UN-backed organisation launched the 'Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke', which graphically details this global epidemic.

"No matter what advances there are in high-technology medicine, the fundamental message is that any major reduction in deaths and disability from heart disease and stroke will come primarily from prevention, not just cure,"​ said Dr Judith Mackay, co-author of the Atlas.

To this end, foods designed to tackle heart health are set to grow by 7.6 per cent to reach sales of £145 million in the UK alone by 2007, according to Datamonitor.

A wide range of ingredients are being used in heart health products, with tea and wine leading the way.

Tea, for example, the second most consumed beverage in the world is believed to lower cholesterol levels and protect against heart attacks. And manufacturers of grape extracts or other polyphenol ingredients are enjoying a lift in sales on the back of growing evidence that supports its heart-health promoting properties. The red wine compound resveratrol is thought to be responsible for the protective effects of red wine on the heart.

The BPC 2004​ is being held at Manchester International Convention Centre, UK between 27 and 29 September.

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