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Heart death gap has widened

5th November 2012

Researchers at Imperial College London have said the difference in the number of deaths for people aged over 65 in rich and poor areas has increased since the 1980s.

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Their analysis, which was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, showed the areas with the highest number of deaths were in Birmingham, Yorkshire, Liverpool, Manchester and poor areas in London.

The researchers analysed data from 1982 to 2006 for males and females aged 30-64 and the over-65s, and looked at the individual electoral wards in England.

They found deaths from heart disease had decreased by over half since the 1980s. However rates for people aged 65 and over showed less of a fall in the most deprived areas, which meant the gap between rich and poor had increased.

Deaths in men aged 65 and above caused by cardiovascular disease decreased almost five times as much in the best performing 1% of wards compared to the worst performing 1%.

Female deaths from heart disease showed a tenfold decrease in the best wards in comparison to the worst ones.

Dr Perviz Asaria, who worked on the study, said: "If people's jobs are less stable, they may be forced to change their diet, or drink and smoke more. So we need to be concerned about these issues if we are going to carry on bringing death rates down."

She added: "As public health gets taken up by local authorities, there's a danger that health budgets will have to compete with other services such as schools. It's essential that cardiovascular screening and prevention programmes don't get cut as a result." 

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