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Premature death rate for cardiovascular disease on the rise

New figures from the British Heart Foundation show that the number of people who died prematurely of cardiovascular conditions hit its highest total for 14 years.

New figures from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) show that the number of people who died prematurely of cardiovascular conditions hit its highest total for 14 years.

In 2022, over 39,000 people aged under 75 in England died from heart attacks, coronary heart disease and stroke, which was an average of 750 people each week.

The charity said that before 2012, the number and rate of deaths from these conditions under the age of 75 were falling, in part thanks to decades of medical and scientific breakthroughs. But after nearly a decade of slowing progress, recent statistics show that the rate of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease has now increased in England for three years back-to-back. This is the first time there has been a clear reversal in the trend for almost 60 years.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive, said: “These figures paint a heartbreaking picture. For more than half a century, pioneering research and medical advances helped us make huge strides towards reducing heart attack and stroke deaths. But this has been followed by a lost decade of progress in which far too many people have lost loved ones to cardiovascular disease too soon.

“We can stop this heartbreak, but only if politicians unite to address the preventable causes of heart disease, cut long waiting lists for people who need lifesaving heart and stroke care, and help power scientific breakthroughs to unlock revolutionary new treatments and cures.

“Hesitating to act would be a fatal mistake – cardiovascular disease is one of the country’s biggest killers and our hearts need protection now.”

Worst cardiovascular care crisis in living memory

A number of key factors are driving the trend, according to the BHF, including an increasingly unhealthy population and widening health inequalities in England over the last decade, as well as longstanding and extreme pressure on the NHS and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic and potential effects of Covid-19 infection.

There has also been a lack of meaningful action from Government over the last 10 years to address many of the causes of heart disease and stroke, such as stubbornly high obesity rates.

It says to get back on track to reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease, it wants to see urgent action on three fronts: better prevention of heart disease and stroke, the prioritisation of NHS heart care, and the supercharging of cardiovascular research to unlock groundbreaking new treatments and cures.

Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, BHF Associate Medical Director and Consultant Cardiologist, said: “We’re in the grip of the worst heart care crisis in living memory. Every part of the system providing heart care is damaged, from prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, to crucial research that could give us faster and better treatments. This is happening at a time when more people are getting sicker and need the NHS more than ever.

“I find it tragic that we’ve lost hard-won progress to reduce early death from cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, we are still seeing more people than expected die from cardiovascular conditions overall – more than any other disease group. It’s clear to me that urgent intervention is long overdue.”

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