New bid to cut heart death toll

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PEOPLE aged as young as 40 could be given health screening in a bid to stop early deaths from heart disease in Wigan.

Heart problems and alcohol abuse remain the borough’s biggest health problems, according to latest figures just revealed.

A report presented to a meeting of Wigan Council’s Adult Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee highlighted that alcohol and cardio-vascular disease would remain the ‘priorities among the priorities’ for the town.

And although progress is being made and steps are being taken to address the issues across the board there are still problem areas that need further attention.

For example, alcohol-related hospital admissions in Wigan are the 7th worst in the North West, although there were fewer incidents than anticipated in 2008/2009. The report, which was an update of performance provided by the Health and Wellbeing Partnership, said: “In terms of our own performance over time there appears to be a slowdown in the increase of alcohol-related hospital admissions which can be taken as a positive sign.”

Another positive was that admissions for ‘acute alcohol intoxication’ and the number ‘total bed days for alcohol specific harm’ were both down on what was expected.

Things are also looking up in the area of heart disease and the Find and Treat initiative, launched in 2007, has helped identify people suffering with heart disease or diabetes, who were not previously diagnosed.

Since the start of the programme more than 9,500 patients aged 50 to 74 have been screened, and of those 403 were newly diagnosed with diabetes, 742 with high blood pressure, 146 with chronic heart disease, 2,476 with high cholesterol and 563 with chronic kidney disease.

And in order to help with early diagnosis the Health and Wellbeing Partnership now hopes to extend screening out to local residents aged between 40 and 49 by 2012.

It is hoped that early screening can pick up problems at an earlier stage and make them easier to treat successfully.

The report said: “Mortality from all circulatory disease under 75 is decreasing and moving in the right direction.

“However this is still one of the major contributions to low life expectancy in the borough, and therefore remains a priority.”