A surge in diabetes in Wigan will lead to a sharp rise in heart attacks and strokes by 2035, according to the British Heart Foundation.
Research from the charity shows that greater prevalence of diabetes is expected to cause an increase in the heart conditions, placing an “unprecedented burden” on NHS services.
Projections by Public Health England show that in 2015, 21,768 people in Wigan were living with diabetes, 8.3 per cent of the population.
By 2035, that figure is estimated to grow to 27,479, 9.7 per cent of the projected population.
People with diabetes are between two and four times as likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke than those without.
The BHF says that lifestyle factors, such as obesity and poor diet, are leading to increasing rates of type 2 diabetes – the most common form of the condition, accounting for around 90 per cent of diagnoses.
Being overweight is a major factor in developing type 2 diabetes. The most recent figures, for 2016-17, show that 71 per cent of adults in Wigan were overweight, significantly higher than the average for England.
It is a similar situation among children – more than a third of year 6 pupils were overweight, and 22 per cent were obese.
BHF chief executive Simon Gillespie said that while research was helping to improve survival rates for heart attacks and strokes, the anticipated rise in cases was worrying.
He said: “People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases and the expected surge in type 2 diabetes cases by 2035 could put thousands more people at risk of a deadly heart attack or stroke.
“We can only reverse this trend by taking bold action to tackle obesity and inactivity, especially amongst young people. This must include consideration of further regulatory action to reduce sugar and fat content in food, and to curb junk food advertising directed at young children. The food industry is not acting quickly enough to re-formulate its products, despite mounting evidence of their impact on the nation’s health.”
Nearly four million people across England are currently living with diabetes, but the number is expected to exceed five million by 2035.
In 2015, more than 30,000 people with diabetes had a heart attack, a figure the BHF estimates will increase to nearly 39,000 in 2035. Over the same period, cases of diabetes and stroke are expected to increase from nearly 39,000 to over 50,000.
Altogether, when diseases such as angina and heart failure are included, there will be more than 380,000 people with diabetes and a heart or circulatory disease in England by 2035, an increase of more than 85,000 from 2015.
Dr Jenny Harries, deputy medical director at Public Health England, said: “Everyone can make important lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These include losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising regularly and cutting back on alcohol.
“I encourage having a free NHS Health Check, offered to 40 to 74-year-olds, to help spot early warning signs of these preventable conditions and gives help and advice on lowering the risks.”