Heart Disease, Women and the NHS

Article published on 29th April 2008

Cases of Heart Disease in the UK have been falling since their peak in the mid 1970's, due predominantly to better treatments, a general reduction in smoking and greater awareness amongst the population at large of the disease and its causes.

However new research by experts at Oxford and Liverpool universities (released through the BMC Public Health Journal) has shown that this drop has begun to level out amongst the under 50 age group and particularly in young women where over the last 10-15 years there improvements in smoking levels have ground to a halt. This added to the marked rise in obesity and, relatedly, diabetes in young women (both of which are associated with the development of heart disease) have led to a plateau in the decline of deaths caused by the coronary heart disease in the previous 25 to 30 years.

Although deaths caused by heart disease in younger women are, at present, still relatively few, as a whole the disease remains the biggest killer in this country. As both the British birth rate declines and the population is generally ageing, the concern is that if young people do not change their attitudes to healthy living the trend of obesity may well carry through to their middle and old age, creating a greater strain on the NHS in terms of treatment and critical care.

This strain may have negative effects upon hospital waiting lists, access to treatment and critical care through the NHS within the next few decades.

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