Heart disease deaths halve –but only if you live in the South

 

In one of the most dramatic improvements in the nation's health, deaths from heart disease have halved since the 1980s – but the gains have not been shared equally and the "health gap" between the wealthiest and poorest communities has widened among older people, researchers say.

A map charting the death rate from heart disease and stroke across England by electoral wards shows the stark difference between communities and between the healthy and wealthy South and the poor and sickly North.

Death rates are 20 per cent above average in the poorest wards and 20 per cent below average in the wealthiest wards, among men over 65. A similar disparity is seen for women over 65.

The authors of the study from Imperial College London warn that the health gap could widen further if austerity measures, imposed as a result of the economic crisis, disproportionately affect poor communities. Changes introduced in the NHS, such as switching responsibility for public health to local authorities, could also put some communities at risk of falling behind, they say.

Perviz Asaria, who led the study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, said: "Both social conditions and the quality of the health service strongly affect heart disease mortality."

"The extraordinary pressure on the NHS to make savings might jeopardise health services, including the crucial role of GPs in poor communities. If people's jobs are less stable, they may be forced to change their diet, or drink and smoke more."

The highest death rates were in Manchester and Liverpool, in parts of Yorkshire, around Birmingham and in deprived areas of London. Outside London, death rates were low in southern England.

Healthier lifestyles such as the reduction in smoking and improvements in diet account for part of the improvement in heart disease death rates.

Improved screening and treatment have also played their part. Millions more people are taking statins to lower cholesterol and drugs to lower blood pressure, reducing their risk.

Clot-busting drugs and procedures such as angioplasty (widening the coronary arteries) have saved thousands of lives from stroke and heart attack.

Mubeen Bhutta, policy manager at the British Heart Foundation, said: "The overall decline in heart disease death rates should be something to celebrate but, worryingly, that improvement has not benefited everyone equally.

"If we're going to make a proper job of tackling England's biggest killer, eradicating inequalities must be at the heart of the Government's new cardiovascular disease strategy.

"The communities that need help the most must not be forgotten and targeted interventions in the poorest neighbourhoods will help address a problem which has dogged this country for decades."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

    £6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

    Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

    £32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

    Day In a Page

    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower