The number of deaths attributed to cardiovascular diseases is higher than average in Friesland. Municipal health agency GGD Fryslân reports being surprised by the findings.
Translation by Traci White
Figures released this week revealed that Friesland has one of the highest death rates due to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems in the Netherlands. The province was not the worst, however: Groningen, Twente and South Limburg had even higher average rates between 2013 and 2016.
The Leeuwarder Courant reports that GGD Fryslân is surprised by the findings. Spokesperson Sytske Balt says, “If you look at risk factors like smoking, drinking and obesity, we don’t really stand out.” But the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, which prepared the figures, says that the higher rate can be at least partially attributed to smoking and obesity.
The GGD’s statement suggests that distance from medical facilities and age could play a role in the higher death rate. In Friesland, the municipalities with the highest number of cases included the islands of Vlieland and Terschelling, as well as Dantumadiel, Harlingen, Kollumerland and the former municipality of Franekeradeel. The lowest rates were found in Ameland, Leeuwarderadeel and Littenseradiel (the latter two have since been redistricted and renamed).
The number of acute heart attacks and heart failures is higher in Groningen than in Friesland, but GGD Fryslân does not know what is behind the regional differences. In the eastern part of the province of Groningen, there is a strong correlation among socioeconomic conditions and whether or not someone smokes or is overweight: 12 municipalities there had at least 115 cases between 2013 and 2016. Several municipalities in Drenthe on the border with Groningen also had higher than average numbers.
On average, around 38,500 people die in the Netherlands due to cardiovascular disease. It is the second most common cause of death, second to cancer.