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."

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Sport
football
News
i100
Life and Style
Virtual reality headset: 'Essentially a cinema screen that you strap to your face'
techHow virtual reality is thrusting viewers into frontline of global events and putting film-goers at the heart of the action
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
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: Front End Web Interface Developer - HTML, CSS, JS

    £17000 - £23750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Liverpool based international...

    Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

    £120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

    Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

    £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness