Policies needed to tackle inequalities in deaths from heart disease in England

June 12, 2012, Public Library of Science

Although improved treatment uptake for coronary heart disease in England has resulted in a dramatic fall in death rates over recent years, improvements in major risk factors vary substantially between richer and poorer people, according to a study by UK researchers in this week's PLoS Medicine.

The researchers, led by Madhavi Bajekal from University College London, examined trends in from coronary in England between 2000 and 2007. They found that approximately half the fall in deaths was attributable to improved treatment uptake across all socioeconomic groups, which the authors say is consistent with equitable service delivery across the NHS. By contrast, opposing trends in major risk factors, which varied substantially by socioeconomic group, meant that their net contribution accounted for just a third of deaths averted.

In their analysis, the authors found that between 2000 and 2007, death rates from fell from 229 to 147 deaths per 100,000—a decrease of 36%—and the contribution of medical treatments to the number of deaths prevented was very similar across all . However, although changes in risk factors were responsible for a larger proportion of deaths prevented in the most deprived people compared with the most affluent, the benefits of improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, and physical activity were negated by rises in body mass index and diabetes in the most deprived groups.

According to the authors these findings show that whilst recent UK policies for salt reduction and tobacco control have been relatively effective, adverse trends in risk factors related to diet, including diabetes and BMI, continued unabated: rising fastest in the most disadvantaged groups. The authors therefore call for the further implementation of evidence-based policies to promote healthier diets.

Such policies must address the social gradient in these . Population-wide tobacco control policies in combination with targeted smoking cessation services are associated with greater percentage declines in smoking levels in deprived areas in England. Internationally, legislation, regulation, taxation, or subsidies have achieved substantial reductions in the saturated fat, trans-fats, sugars, and calories hidden in processed food, takeaways, and sweetened drinks.

The authors continue: "The UK now has a pressing need for population-wide policy interventions to effectively tackle persistent inequalities in cardiovascular mortality."

Explore further: Thousands of lives could be saved if rest of UK adopted average diet in England

More information: Bajekal M, Scholes S, Love H, Hawkins N, O'Flaherty M, et al. (2012) Analysing Recent Socioeconomic Trends in Coronary Heart Disease Mortality in England, 2000-2007: A Population Modelling Study. PLoS Med 9(6): e1001237. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001237

Related Stories

Thousands of lives could be saved if rest of UK adopted average diet in England

November 3, 2011
Around 4,000 deaths could be prevented every year if the UK population adopted the average diet eaten in England, concludes research published in BMJ Open.

Tobacco smoking and high blood pressure are biggest killers of Japanese adults

January 24, 2012
The life expectancy of a person born in Japan is among the highest in the world (82.9 years) yet tobacco smoking and high blood pressure are still the major risk factors for death among adults in Japan, emphasizing the need ...

Decrease in smoking reduces death rates within months

September 1, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- A study by the University of Liverpool has found that a decrease in smoking rapidly reduces mortality rates in individuals and entire populations within six months.

Recommended for you

A nanoparticle inhalant for treating heart disease

January 18, 2018
A team of researchers from Italy and Germany has developed a nanoparticle inhalant for treating people suffering from heart disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Two simple tests could help to pinpoint cause of stroke

January 10, 2018
Detecting the cause of the deadliest form of stroke could be improved by a simple blood test added alongside a routine brain scan, research suggests.

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

Heart-muscle patches made with human cells improve heart attack recovery

January 10, 2018
Large, human cardiac-muscle patches created in the lab have been tested, for the first time, on large animals in a heart attack model. This clinically relevant approach showed that the patches significantly improved recovery ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.