The NHS has made 'outstanding progress' in managing cardio- vascular disease, according to two reports published this week.

The coronary heart disease national service framework progress report shows the target to reduce deaths from the disease among people under 75 by 40 per cent has been met five years early, largely thanks to improvement in the treatment of heart attacks.

The report reveals a marked increase in the number of patients receiving thrombolysis in emergency care - up from 21 per cent in 2001 to 70 per cent in 2008.

Interim results of the national infarct angioplasty project, also published this week, are also encouraging. They highlight the effectiveness of using angioplasty instead of thrombolysis as an emergency treatment for heart attack patients.

The Department of Health is considering the feasibility of offering patients primary angioplasty as the first line of treatment for heart attacks.

Health minister Ann Keen commented: "We have made ongoing and sustainable improvements to the treatment of heart disease that have dramatically reduced mortality rates."

Ms Keen added that the government's investment in a capital programme for hospitals had contributed to improvements in diagnosis and waiting times.

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