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

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

    £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

    £23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...