PENSIONERS in Wigan are at greater risk of dying early from heart disease than those in most other areas of the country.
An analysis by experts at Imperial College London looked at death rates from heart conditions for men and women aged 30 to 64 and over-65s.
The study looked at data from 1982 to 2006 across the almost 8,000 electoral wards in England.
The places with the highest death rates were areas around Manchester - including Wigan - and Liverpool.
Some - mainly in the north - were areas that were performing poorly in the 1980s, and have been doing well since but could not keep up with the best.
Others, spread across England, were doing averagely well - but had also fallen behind.
Deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) have more than halved across England overall.
However the rates for men and women aged 65 or older, the decline was smaller in the most deprived communities, which has meant that the gap between the richest and poorest areas is wider.
Despite general improvements in the borough, this latest study suggests more can be done for those aged over 65.
Dr Kate Ardern, Executive Director of Public Health for the Borough of Wigan, said: “We try to reduce the gap in heart health in various ways.
“The Find and Treat (NHS Health Check) programme targets those in the more disadvantaged parts of the Borough.
“We have found that the offer of a health check from a health bus in a supermarket car park will attract people, particularly men, who would not normally go to a doctor’s surgery.
“We have also targeted heart health checks at people with serious long term mental health problems who may live on benefits, smoke and eat a poor diet.”
Charities have also voiced their concern following the findings.
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.”