The number of fatal heart attacks has continued to decline in recent years. According to the “German Heart Report 2022”, the mortality rate fell by around 34 percent for women and by around 26 percent for men between 2011 and 2021. In absolute numbers, around 5,900 fewer people died of a heart attack in 2021 than ten years before.

According to the report, there were around 46,500 fewer deaths compared to the year 2000. “This level must be maintained,” said Thomas Voigtländer, chairman of the German Heart Foundation, on Thursday when the results were presented in Berlin.

Smoking as a risk factor

According to the report, the decline is partly due to fewer people smoking. Along with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, smoking is one of the most important risk factors for a heart attack. In addition, there are now better treatment options and more comprehensive care, explained Holger Thiele, President of the German Society for Cardiology. “We have many new medications that prevent the stents from closing again,” he gave an example.

According to the report, what was also crucial was that, thanks to educational campaigns, people know more about heart attacks and can recognize and diagnose symptoms more quickly.

But even if mortality from some cardiovascular diseases is “impressively declining” according to Voigtländer – including heart failure – a lot of people are still dying. “Overall, cardiovascular diseases are still the number one cause of death in Germany,” said the cardiologist.

Chest compressions in an emergency

According to the report, a total of around 205,600 people died in 2021 from ischemic heart disease, heart valve disease, cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure or a congenital malformation. More than 65,000 people die every year from sudden cardiac death alone. The experts emphasized that it is therefore essential that more people learn to use chest compressions in an emergency. “For every minute in which a person is not treated with chest compressions after a sudden cardiac arrest, the probability of survival decreases by ten percent,” says the report.

According to the information, the rate of lay resuscitation increased from around 14 percent in 2010 to around 46 percent in 2021. “We are still in the bottom third in Europe,” said Thiele. That’s why resuscitation lessons, for example, should be given regularly at school.