Heart disease

Coronary Heart disease (CHD) is caused when the heart's blood vessels, the coronary arteries, become narrowed or blocked and cannot supply enough blood to the heart.

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).

We continue to implement our Heart Disease Improvement Plan (2014) which reaffirms heart disease as a clinical priority for the NHS in Scotland and sets out the priorities and actions to deliver improved prevention, treatment and care for all people in Scotland affected by heart disease.

The National Advisory Committee for Heart Disease (NACHD) coordinates implementation of the Heart Disease Improvement Plan. The Committee aims to promote Scotland-wide collaboration, peer support and dissemination of best practice.

The decrease in both mortality rates and the incident rate of coronary heart between 2008 and 2017 show that our strategy for tackling heart disease is delivering important improvements for patients.

We are committed to continuing to do more to deliver the best possible health and social care, building on progress so far, and to ensure that the issues we are focusing on continue to reflect current needs.

Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA)

A cardiac arrest is when your heart suddenly stops pumping blood around your body, commonly because of a problem with the electrical signals in your heart. When your heart stops pumping blood, your brain is starved of oxygen which causes you to fall unconscious and stop breathing.

Every year over 3,500 people around Scotland are treated by the Scottish Ambulance Service after having a cardiac arrest.

We published the Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA): A Strategy for Scotland in March 2015. The strategy has an overarching aim for Scotland to be an international leader in OHCA outcomes by 2020, which is underpinned by two high level aims:

  • to increase survival rates after an OHCA to save 1,000 additional lives by 2020 and more beyond
  • to equip an additional 500,000 people in Scotland with Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) skills by 2020 as an essential staging post to increasing rapid bystander intervention in OHCA 

The implementation of the strategy is overseen by the OHCA reference group, chaired by Professor Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director, Scottish Government.  

Save Life For Scotland (SALFS) partners, including the Scottish Government, have equipped more than 445,000 people across Scotland with CPR skills since its launch in 2015. This includes people in schools, community and sports groups and workplaces and public places across Scotland.

Since the implementation of the strategy bystander CPR rates have increased and more patients are arriving to hospital with a pulse on arrival. This shows that our OHCA Strategy is delivering results and Scotland is well on its way to creating a nation of lifesavers. 

More information

Information about the prevention, symptoms and treatment of coronary heart disease is available on the NHS inform website.