Heart disease: key points

Coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as ischaemic heart disease,  is a heart condition that occurs when the heart’s blood vessels, the coronary arteries, become narrowed or blocked and cannot supply enough blood to the heart. 


  • The incidence of and mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD) have both largely been falling in Scotland over the period 2005/06 to 2014/15.
  • The incidence of CHD is higher amongst men, older people and people with a family history of early heart disease.
  • Risk factors for CHD include: high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, poor diet and diabetes.
  • The age and sex standardised incidence rate for CHD decreased by 29.7% from 533 per 100,000 population in 2005/06 to 375 in 2014/15.
  • The age and sex standardised incidence rate of heart attack decreased by 13.8% from 281 per 100,000 population in 2005/06 to 242 in 2007/08. However, it increased between 2007/08 and 2010/11. This was likely to be due to the introduction of more sensitive tests for diagnosis. The incidence rate decreased to 225 per 100,000 population in 2014/15, a decrease of 15.2% since 2010/11.


  • CHD mortality increases with age with much higher rates among older people.
  • Over the last 20 years, CHD mortality rates in Scotland have been higher than those in the United Kingdom as a whole and much higher than those for the European Union. However the absolute gap in rates has narrowed considerably.
  • The age-sex standardised mortality rate for coronary heart disease (CHD) has also been decreasing, falling from 259 per 100,000 in 2005 to 149 in 2014. This is an overall reduction of 42.6% and a fall of 6.7% in the last year.
  • As in the rest of UK, there was a continuing downward trend in mortality from heart disease (including CHD). In Scotland, the age and sex standardised mortality rate for all heart disease fell from 328 per 100,000 population in 2005 to 212 per 100,000 population in 2014. This was a reduction of 35.6% in the last ten years and a reduction of 4.6% in the last year.
  • Within Scotland, mortality rates remain higher in deprived areas. However, there has been a reduction in mortality in all the deprivation quintiles over the decade 2005-2014. The reduction in the age-sex standardised CHD mortality rate among the most deprived category (quintile 1) was 36.1% compared with 46.5% in the least deprived category (quintile 5).

Standardised rates

Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section was completed in March 2016.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end March 2017.