HEART disease is killing more than 850 Wiganers a year, shock new figures reveal.
And health chiefs say that drastic measures are now needed to stem what is the biggest cause of premature death in the borough.
In an urgent report delivered to councillors, Wigan’s director of public health, Prof Kate Ardern highlighted the need for immediate action to combat cardio-vascular disease (CVD) which currently affects one in every 23 Wigan folk. The report, Heart of Wigan, looked specifically at factors linked to CVD and highlights various causes of premature deaths and what is needed to tackle the issue. In Wigan nearly one in every five people smokes (22.8 per cent of the population). Smoking is the main cause of CVD and is responsible for 253 deaths a year locally.
One in five children lives in poverty according to official figures – also a known cause of leading to CVD.
According to the British Heart Foundation, an average of 868 people a year die in Wigan borough from CVD and while there have been huge improvements, Prof Ardern has issued a cry for change.
She said: “Wigan is significantly worse than the England average for the prevalence of smoking, smoking-related deaths, life expectancy and the number of physically active adults.
“Despite the fall in smoking prevalence (down from 24.9 per cent the previous year) it remains the main cause of early death in the borough.
“The hospital admission rate due to alcohol related illness has increased by over seven times the rate reported in 2008 and the rate is still 1.5 times the national average.”
To tackle the issue, Dr Ardern has implemented the Heart of Wigan programme to ensure all organisations in the borough are involved in the CVD prevention agenda.
Dr Ardern added: “The Heart Champion programme will be a subset of the successful Health Champion programme and will focus strongly on the CVD prevention agenda.
“They will follow the Heartstart partnership programme between Wigan Council, the North West Ambulance Service and the British Heart Foundation.”