Progress in cutting deaths from heart disease slows down

7 August 2018        

Category: BHF Comment

Progress in reducing death rates for heart and circulatory diseases in the UK has been stalling in recent years, according to alarming new figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

surgeons performing a heart transplant 

The figures show a significant slow-down in improvements in mortality rates for heart and circulatory diseases, including heart attack and stroke, since 2011. This follows 50 years of continual decline in death rates, in which time the number of people dying from heart and circulatory diseases every year has more than halved. 

Little change in life expectancy

The UK-based report, changing trends in mortality: a cross-UK comparison, 1981 – 2016 looks at patterns in mortality by cause of death within each of the four UK countries between 2001 and 2016.For decades there had been steady increases in life expectancy, however, from around 2011 the figures show that those increases have slowed, partly due to the slowdown in the decline of mortality rates for heart and circulatory diseases.

The figures also show no improvement in mortality rates for people aged over 90 in recent years, largely due to increasing numbers of people developing conditions such as vascular dementia.

Need for research is as urgent as ever

Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“Heart and circulatory diseases are still responsible for 1 in 4 deaths in the UK, and there are more than 7 million people living with the daily burden of these conditions.

“These figures confirm that death rates from heart and circulatory diseases are falling, but the progress we’ve made is now at risk of stalling. We must not get complacent. The need to fund research into the prevention, treatment and cures for heart and circulatory diseases is now more urgent than ever.

“People now have an increased chance of surviving a heart attack as treatments have improved over the years. However, the likelihood of dying later in life from subsequent heart failure has increased. Almost a million people in the UK are now living with heart failure, for which these people urgently need better treatments.

“The rising number of deaths from dementia is a growing concern, with a substantial number being the result of the damage caused by a stroke. With so many of these life-threatening conditions being connected, and a growing number of people living with more than one long-term condition, we all need to maintain better heart and circulatory health throughout our lives.” 

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