OBJECTIVE: Despite rapid declines over the last two decades, coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality rates in the British Isles are still amongst the highest in Europe. This study uses a modelling approach to compare the potential impact of future risk factor scenarios relating to smoking and physical activity levels, dietary salt and saturated fat intakes on future CHD mortality in three countries: Northern Ireland (NI), Republic of Ireland (RoI) and Scotland.
METHODS: CHD mortality models previously developed and validated in each country were extended to predict potential reductions in CHD mortality from 2010 (baseline year) to 2030. Risk factor trends data from recent surveys at baseline were used to model alternative future risk factor scenarios: Absolute decreases in (i) smoking prevalence and (ii) physical inactivity rates of up to 15% by 2030; relative decreases in (iii) dietary salt intake of up to 30% by 2030 and (iv) dietary saturated fat of up to 6% by 2030. Probabilistic sensitivity analyses were then conducted.
RESULTS: Projected populations in 2030 were 1.3, 3.4 and 3.9 million in NI, RoI and Scotland respectively (adults aged 25-84). In 2030: assuming recent declining mortality trends continue: 15% absolute reductions in smoking could decrease CHD deaths by 5.8-7.2%. 15% absolute reductions in physical inactivity levels could decrease CHD deaths by 3.1-3.6%. Relative reductions in salt intake of 30% could decrease CHD deaths by 5.2-5.6% and a 6% reduction in saturated fat intake might decrease CHD deaths by some 7.8-9.0%. These projections remained stable under a wide range of sensitivity analyses.
CONCLUSIONS: Feasible reductions in four cardiovascular risk factors (already achieved elsewhere) could substantially reduce future coronary deaths. More aggressive polices are therefore needed in the British Isles to control tobacco, promote healthy food and increase physical activity.