A new report from the charity said the historic pace of progress in reducing death rates “has slowed to a near standstill”, with heart and circulatory disease deaths in people under 75 now on the rise.
Millions of people are also living with undiagnosed conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes that increases their risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke.
“These factors, combined with a growing population, mean that increasing numbers of people are now dying from heart and circulatory diseases before their 75th or even 65th birthdays,” the report said.
In 2017, over 42,000 people died from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK before the age of 75, a rise of just over 3 per cent on the 41,042 in 2014.
Among under-65s, there were 18,668 deaths in 2017, up almost 4 per cent on the 17,982 five years earlier. In the five-year period beforehand, there had been a 19 per cent decline among under-65s.
The shift represents a real slowdown – until recently, death rates for heart and circulatory disease had seen a 75 per cent cut since 1971.
Circulatory diseases include stroke and diseases of the arteries. They also include peripheral arterial disease, aortic aneurysm and carotid artery disease.
The BHF has issued a new ambition for the UK to halve premature death and disability from stroke, while increasing heart attack survival to 90 per cent by 2030.
Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF, said: “In the UK we’ve made phenomenal progress in reducing the number of people who die of a heart attack or stroke.
“But we’re seeing more people die each year from heart and circulatory diseases. We are deeply concerned by this reversal.
“Heart and circulatory diseases remain a leading cause of death in the UK, with millions at risk because of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
“We need to work in partnership with governments, the NHS and the medical community to increase research investment and accelerate innovative approaches to diagnose and support the millions of people at risk of a heart attack or stroke.”
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