Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke

Here is the breakdown of health statistics about chest, heart and stroke conditions.

37% of all adult deaths are caused by chest, heart or stroke conditions. In 2017, 5,925 deaths were due to these conditions, which is 16 deaths per day (1). 335,106 people in Northern Ireland are living with these conditions, which is 18% of the population or over 1 in 6. (2). This figure includes people living with asthma.




  • Currently in NI there are 40,955 people living with COPD (2% of the population) (2)
  • 122,178 people living in NI are living with asthma (7% of the population) (2)


  • In 2017, diseases of the respiratory system accounted for 13% of all deaths (2,145)– note this figure excludes lung cancer and asthma (1)
  • In 2017, 6% (1005) of deaths registered in Northern Ireland were due to COPD. This accounts for 47% of all respiratory deaths (1)




  • The number of people currently living in NI (2017/18) with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is 73,835 (4% of the population) (2)
  • In 2017/18, 6,062 people in Northern Ireland presented to hospital with a heart attack (6), which is almost 17 people per day.
  • The number of people currently living in NI (2017/18) with heart failure is 17,402 (1% of the population) (2)


  • In 2017, 24% of all deaths (3,780) were caused by diseases of the circulatory system. Of that number,  1691 were attributed to coronary heart disease and 988 to stroke (1). Included in the coronary heart disease figure are 1,034 who died of a heart attack.




  • The number of people currently living in NI with stroke and TIA is 37,119 (2% of the population) (2)
  • In 2017/18,  4,060 people were presented to hospital in Northern Ireland with a primary diagnosis of stroke – 11 per day (6).
  • The number of people in Northern Ireland living with Atrial Fibrillation (AF), which increases the risk of stroke, is 37,325 (2% of the population) (2)


  • In 2017, 1022 people died following a stroke, which equates to almost 3 people each day (1)



  • The number of people currently living in NI with hypertension (high blood pressure) is 268,400 – 14% of the population. (2)
  • In 2017, the total number of deaths in NI was 16,036. (1)
  • In 2017, the main cause of death was cancer, 4,581 deaths (28%) (1), followed by circulatory disease (3,780 – 24%).
  • Cancer, all circulatory diseases and all respiratory diseases remain the three largest causes of death in NI, accounting for 65% of all deaths (1)
  • Over the last 3 decades the number of deaths due to circulatory diseases has fallen from 8,093 in 1992 to 3,780 in 2017. (4)



  • Smoking causes over 2300 deaths per year in Northern Ireland and robs 10 –15 years of healthy life (5)
  • 18% of the population are current smokers. This figure for 2017/18 has fallen from 22% over the last three years. This most recent year has seen males more likely (20%) to smokes than females (18%). (5)



  • In 2016, there were 289 alcohol related deaths in NI – 184 men, 105 women (1)



  • The Health Survey Northern Ireland (2017/2018)  reported that  17% of children under 15 years old were overweight, while 8% of children under 15 years old were obese.  (3)
  • The Health Survey also found that 37% of adults in Northern Ireland are classified as overweight and 27% as obese. 36% of adults were underweight or normal weight (3)
  • The Health Survey NI 2016/17 reported that 55% of adults met the new recommendations of at least 150 minutes of physical exercise per week. Men (61%) were more likely than women (51%) to meet recommendations (3)
  • 44% of adults reported having over four hours of sedentary time per day on weekdays and 54% had over four hours of sedentary time per day on weekends.
  • Northern Ireland is at the bottom of the UK scale for physical activity in children and youths scoring a D minus in the 2016 report. Only 43.4% of children meet the recommendations for more than 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day (note 7)



1. Data tables on deaths registered in NI in 2017

2. Prevalence data in the Quality and Outcomes Framework Disease Prevalence (2017/18 data)

3. Health Survey Northern Ireland, 2017/18  

4.Central Survey Unit, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). (2013)Young Persons Behaviour and Attitudes Survey

5. Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Northern Ireland. (2012) Ten-year Tobacco Control Strategy for Northern Ireland.

6. Hospital Actvity Statistics 2017/18. Diganosis and Admissions are estimated, using the below International Classification of Disease (Version 10) codes. Stroke (I60-I65), Heart attack (I21), Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40-J47)

7. Harrington, D.M., Belton, S., Coppinger, T., Cullen, M., Donnelly, A., Dowd, K., Keating, T., Layte, R., Murphy, M., Murphy, N., Murtagh, E. & Woods, C. 2014, “Results from Ireland’s 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity in Children and Youth”,Journal of physical activity & health,  11 Suppl 1, pp. S63-8.