East Dunbartonshire is the heart-healthy capital of Scotland – according to new research from the British Heart Foundation.
A recent survey revealed that cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills fewer people under the age of 75 in the district than in any other part of the country.
Analysts place those who die from CVD before the age of 75 into a category of premature deaths.
In East Dunbartonshire, the results show that an annual average of 65.9 per 100,000 people died prematurely of heart disease from 2010-12.
Just a few miles away in Glasgow, the rate is 143.5. In North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire, it’s 122.6 and 116.3, repsectively.
Multiple deprivaton has been cited as one of the underpinning factors.
And while some have argued the greater affluence of East Dunbartonshire has delivered the low death rates, health experts say it is often down to the individual.
Dr Jean Turner, chief executive of the Scottish Patients’ Association, admits that the wealth of the local population does help to provide for added health benefits.
However, as an East Dunbartonshire resident herself, she notes that the mindset of those living in the area is equally important.
She said: “Affluence is something that will always play a part in the health of residents.
“It’s clear that having greater income and resources can have a big impact on healthy living, whereas those in the poorer areas of the country will find health issues arise much earlier in life.
“That being said, not everything is down to money. People of all backgrounds have to take some responsibility for their own well being.
“In a lot of cases, people don’t value their health until they have lost it. By then it can be too late.
“East Dunbartonshire is one of the most affluent areas in Scotland and so you would certainly expect a lower rate of heart disease.
“But we shouldn’t hide the fact that people in this area value their health, exercise regularly and watch what they eat.”
Herald columnist Dr Frank Dunn, president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, said: “There is definitely a gradient between the more impoverished areas and the better off towns in the country.
“Life expectancy among residents in Lenzie is around 84 whereas the life expectancy for someone living in Shettleson is around 54.
“We can see that East Dunbartonshire is doing really well because the people here are determined to live a healthy lifestyle.
“Still, we can’t take our eye off the ball and no matter where you live it is important that we keep plugging the message of diet, exercise and responsible eating.
“Hopefully the Commonwealth Games will have encouraged more and more people to pursue exercise and improve their general well-being.”
Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF, said: “We’ve made huge progress in the fight against cardiovascular disease, with 70 per cent of heart attack victims now surviving to go home to their families.
“With the help of our supporters we’ll increase investment and accelerate our world-class research that could save the lives of more people who die prematurely.
“We remain determined to win the fight against cardiovascular disease, improving the lives of the seven million people living with it and saving those who currently die too young.”