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 2006/07 to 2015/16.
  • 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 27.3% from 498 per 100,000 population in 2006/07 to 362 in 2015/16.
  • The age and sex standardised incidence rate of heart attack decreased by 7.6% from 262 per 100,000 population in 2006/07 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 218 per 100,000 population in 2015/16, a decrease of 18% 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 239 per 100,000 in 2006 to 149 in 2015. This is an overall reduction of 36.7%. There has been no change in rate 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. The rate rose from 206 per 100,000 population in 2014 to 214 per 100,000 population in 2015 – a 3.9% increase. This might be due to unusually high overall mortality.
  • 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 2006-2015. The reduction in the age-sex standardised CHD mortality rate among the most deprived category (quintile 1) was 31.3% compared with 38.5% in the least deprived category (quintile 5).

Standardised rates

  • Please note incidence and mortality rates are standardised using the 2013 European standard population. For more information see Appendix A1 of ISD's Heart Disease Statistics Update.

Section updates:

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