London, Feb 17 : The French might be known for their high-fat and high smoking-drinking lifestyles, but it's the Britons who are almost thrice more likely to die from heart disease than their French counterparts, says a new European league table.
Not only France, in fact some of the most deprived parts of Eastern Europe have less deaths due to cardio-vascular problems, as compared to the UK.
The results have launched a debate of experts over the French having lower rates of heart diseases despite their high-fat diet, high cholesterol levels, and rates of smoking and drinking, similar to UK's.
The findings revealed that in people in the age group of 45 to 74, there are 202 deaths due to heart disease annually per 100,000 people in England and Wales, as compared with just 65 in France, having the lowest rate in Europe.
However, with 175 deaths, Scotland comes a little better than England and Wales, while Northern Ireland fares worse, with 227 deaths.
According to what the figures suggest, Eastern European countries including Slovenia and Albania suffer fewer heart disease deaths than the UK.
However, Prof Peter Weissburg of the British Heart Foundation commented on France's position at the top of the chart, calling it an "enigma".
"The debate goes on about what it is that is so special about France. The theories are that it is the protective qualities of red wine, or the use of olive oil, combined with the higher proportion of fruit and vegetables eaten, but we have still not identified any magic ingredient to explain it, " the Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
The study is published in the European Heart Journal.