About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland provides an annual update on heart disease in Scotland. The publication includes information on incidence, mortality, hospital activity, 30-day survival following first emergency admission, operations, GP prescribing and ambulance service activity.

Main points

  • The rate at which new cases of coronary heart disease occur (the incidence) has fallen by 20% over the last decade, however, it has changed very little over the last five years.
  • In 2019, there were 6,560 deaths in Scotland where coronary heart disease (CHD) was the underlying cause. However, whilst there has been a 32% reduction in deaths from coronary heart disease over the last ten years, the rate of decline has slowed in the last five years.
Image caption Coronary heart disease – age and sex adjusted mortality rates per 100,000 population, Scotland, 2010 to 2019
Trend in coronary heart disease death rates for the last ten years
  • Hospital admissions for heart attacks have increased by 11% in the past 10 years.
  • In 2019/20, 93% of people survived 30 days or more following their first heart attack compared with 90% a decade earlier.
  • The death rate for heart failure has reduced by 41% over the ten-year period.


Heart disease is a broad term for a variety of conditions that affect the structure and function of the heart. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease (CHD) where the blood vessels carrying oxygen-rich blood (coronary arteries) to the heart muscle become narrowed or blocked. If insufficient blood reaches the heart muscle the result can be damage to the heart muscle which is known as a heart attack.

Heart failure is the consequence of failure of the ability of the heart muscle to pump blood efficiently. This can be caused by a heart attack but there are a number of other causes of heart failure (including disease of the heart valves, lung disease, heavy alcohol use and infections affecting the heart).

Scotland has a high prevalence of the risk factors (external website) associated with CHD, such as smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity. Despite a substantial reduction in the rate of death from coronary heart disease (CHD) over the last decade, it remains one of the leading causes of death in Scotland (Health of Scotland’s population - Mortality Rates (external website)). Overall, it is estimated that around 7% of men and 4% of women are living with CHD (Scottish Health Survey 2019 (external website)). Treating and preventing heart disease is a national clinical priority for Scotland, as outlined in the Heart Disease Improvement Plan (external website). Please see News and Updates section of our website for more details.

Further information

Public Health Scotland publishes a range of heart disease-related information. You can find all our information on the heart disease section of the PHS website.

Corresponding information on stroke can be found on the stroke section of the Data and Intelligence website.

The next release of this publication will be in January 2022.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.hdstroke@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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