Individuals in the most deprived areas are nearly twice as likely to suffer from certain heart conditions compared to those in wealthier areas, according to a new study involving the University of Oxford.

Researchers analysed electronic health records of 22 million individuals, including 1,650,052 newly diagnosed with at least one cardiovascular disease between 2000 and 2019 to understand trends in heart disease over the last 20 years.

The research was conducted by a consortium of experts from the University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health, KU Leuven, the University of Glasgow, and the University of Leicester.

The research was carried out by the University of Oxford in partnership with three other universitiesThe research was carried out by the University of Oxford in partnership with three other universities (Image: Newsquest)

The analysis also found there has been a 19 per cent decrease in new heart-related disease diagnoses between 2000 and 2019, including substantial reductions in heart attacks and strokes, with cases down by approximately 30 per cent.

However, diagnoses of other heart conditions, such as irregular heartbeats, valve problems, and blood clots, have increased.

Due to these differing trends, the overall incidence of cardiovascular disease across 10 conditions studied has remained relatively stable since 2007-2008.

A majority of the improvements in heart health have been seen in individuals over 60. Younger age groups have not experienced the same positive trends.

Dr Nathalie Conrad, senior research fellow at Oxford's Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health, and the lead author of the study, said: "To date, cardiovascular disease prevention is largely focused on ischaemic heart disease and stroke.

"Our findings suggest that existing efforts have been successful in preventing, yet that other cardiovascular diseases increased in parallel.

"For example, our study shows that venous thromboembolism and heart block are now similarly common to heart attacks or strokes, yet these conditions receive much less attention in terms of prevention efforts.

"We hope that these findings will help raise awareness to expand research and prevention efforts to include the broader spectrum of cardiovascular presentations and their consequences."

The conclusion drawn from the results suggests that future efforts to combat heart disease must consider a broader range of conditions.

It also stresses the necessity to focus on the specific needs of younger and socioeconomically deprived populations.

Researchers say public health strategies need to adapt to these new realities to continue the fight against heart disease effectively.

Broadening the understanding of heart disease beyond just heart attacks and strokes to include conditions like arrhythmias and valve issues is also important.

They also say by focusing on these vulnerable populations, health authorities can develop and implement more effective prevention strategies, ultimately improving heart health outcomes for everyone.