The number of people dying from heart attacks and strokes has dropped by two-fifths over the last decade, new figures show.

Between 1999/2001 and 2008/10 the mortality rate for circulatory diseases in England for people under the age of 75 has decreased by 41%, according to Department of Health statistics.

Meanwhile, life expectancy has increased by more than two years for both men and women.

The improvement means boys born in England between 2008 and 2010 can expect to reach the age of 78, while girls are likely to live just past their 82nd birthday.

The figures also show that fewer people under the age of 75 died from cancer in 2008/10 compared to 1999/2001, with the mortality rate for cancer decreasing by 14%.

Deaths from circulatory diseases fell from 115 per 100,000 in 1999-01 to just 67 in 2008-10.

Although life expectancy overall is increasing, the statistics show that the gap between female life expectancy for deprived areas and the rest of the UK is widening.

Women in England on average saw a rise in life expectancy of 2.2 years over the last decade, but women from deprived areas saw a rise of just 2 years.

The average woman could expect to live to 82.6 years in 2008-10, compared to 80.4 a decade earlier.

Male life expectancy rose from 75.6 years in 1999-01 to 78.4 in 2008.

Cancer deaths fell from 129 per 100,000 in 1999-01 to 110 in 2008-10, while suicide rates also declined by 15% over the period to 7.9 deaths per 100,000.