Heart disease gap between rich and poor widens
Published on 06 November 2012 11:30 AM
The difference in the number of over-65s dying from heart disease in the richest and most deprived areas of England has increased since the 1980s, new statistics show.
Experts from Imperial College London carried out research into heart disease rates for males and females in the 30 to 64 over-65 age groups.
The research, which is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, is thought to be the first ever to have looked at statistics for electoral wards.
Data from 1982 to 2006 taken from England's 8,000 wards was studied for the research.
Areas in the North West, around Liverpool and Manchester, were found to have the highest death rates, along with parts of Yorkshire, areas of Birmingham and poorer boroughs of London.
Some areas, mainly northern, performed badly in the 1980s but have improved since. However they still could not keep up with the top figures.
Deaths from cardiovascular disease have more than halved
Researchers found that the overall number of deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) have more than halved.
However, with rates for males and females in the over-65s category, the decline was smaller in the poorest areas, which means the difference between rich and poor areas has increased.
For males in this category, deaths from CVD dropped nearly five times more in the top performing 1% of wards than in the worst performing 1%. A 10-fold variation was found for females.
Cuts likely to hit poor communities disproportionately
According to researchers, the findings are important as the current financial situation and government cuts are likely to affect poorer communities disproportionately.
Experts say that the pending devolution of public health responsibilities to local councils may put some communities in danger.
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.'
Mubeen Bhutta, policy manager at the British Heart Foundation, said: 'The overall decline in heart disease death rates should be something to celebrate but, worryingly, that improvement has not benefited everyone equally.'
Copyright Press Association 2012