War on Wigan's heart and stroke deaths slows down, figures show

Wigan's heart disease and stroke death numbers revealed
Wigan's heart disease and stroke death numbers revealed

Hundreds of under-75s have died from stroke and heart disease in Wigan in recent years as progress in reducing death rates for these still widespread conditions slows, new figures show.

The trend reflects the findings of a British Heart Foundation report, which reveals deaths from cardiovascular diseases in the UK among under-75s have risen for the first time in more than 40 years.

Public Health England data shows 424 people under the age of 75 in the NHS Wigan Borough CCG area died from coronary heart disease between 2015 and 2017, the latest time period for which data is available.

It means a death rate of 47 in every 100,000 for the area, which is a 16 per cent reduction on the death rate in 2011-13.

But the mortality rate had dropped by 27 per cent in the previous six-year period.

In addition, 158 people died from stroke in 2015-17 - a death rate of 17 in 100,000.

This is a three per cent drop from 2011-13, compared to 39 per cent over the previous six years.

The BHF says historical reductions in mortality rates have “slowed to a near standstill” in the last few years.

It warns that millions of people are living with undiagnosed conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes that increase their risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure often has few if any symptoms.

Prof Jamie Waterall, from PHE, said stopping cardiovascular disease remained a major challenge that required a united effort across society.

He said: “Supporting people to become more active, eat well, cut back on alcohol and quit smoking will help reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes, most of which are preventable. We also need to get better at detecting those at risk earlier and getting them the right support.”

He added: “If you’re over 40, getting your free NHS health check will help detect early warning signs of heart attack and stroke as well as other serious conditions.”

The BHF report, which used separate data, showed that 42,384 people died from cardiovascular diseases in the UK before the age of 75 in 2017 – around three per cent more than the 41,042 in 2014.

This comes after an almost uninterrupted fall in deaths since 1971.

It also shows how the pace of reducing deaths has slowed, dropping just nine per cent in 2012-17 compared to 25 per cent over the previous five-year period.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF, said the UK had made “phenomenal progress” in reducing deaths from a heart attack or stroke.

He added: “But we’re seeing more people die each year from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK before they reach their 75th, or even 65th, birthday.

“We are deeply concerned by this reversal.

“Heart and circulatory diseases remain a leading cause of death in the UK, with millions at risk because of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

“We need to work in partnership with governments, the NHS and medical research community to increase research investment and accelerate innovative approaches to diagnose and support the millions of people at risk of a heart attack or stroke.”