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UK death rates plummet

8th October 2008

The physical health of people across the UK is improving, according to new government figures.

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While obesity remains a major problem, deaths from cancer, heart disease and suicide are falling fast.

Cancer deaths fell by 18.2% between 1997 and 2007 and are now set to meet the government target on reduction of a 20% fall by 2009-2011.

The Department of Health said the target of cutting heart disease and stroke deaths by 40% for the same period have already been exceeded with the rate down by 44%.

The success is attributed to improved screening, treatment, people leading healthier lifestyles and more giving up smoking.

The reduction in heart disease deaths is put down to greater using statins and procedures such as angioplasty.

Suicides are down by 13.9% against a target of a 20% reduction by 2009-2011.

But there has been little reduction in health inequalities with people living in poorer areas dying younger and no significant fall in road deaths, which are 0.3% higher than they were in 1997.

The British Heart Foundation welcomed the fall in deaths but criticised the failure to narrow the gap between rich and poor.

"Heart disease is preventable so we should be trying to make the greatest progress in the areas with the highest rates," a spokesman said.

And there remain concerns that only two thirds of patients diagnosed with heart disease were receiving the correct treatment to control blood pressure. Experts say increasing that to 90% would save an extra 3,000 lives a year.

 

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