Unhealthy lifestyles: premature heart deaths rise for first time in 50 years
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Unhealthy lifestyles: premature heart deaths rise for first time in 50 years

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The number of people dying prematurely from heart attacks and strokes in the UK has risen for the first time in 50 years.

Research by British Heart Foundation (BHF) shows that 42,384 people died from conditions such as heart attack and stroke before the age of 75 in 2017. The number presents a clear upward trend from the 41,042 who died prematurely from the same ailments three years earlier (in 2014).

The number of deaths caused by heart and circulatory diseases in under 65s is also increasing, peaking at 18,668 in 2017, up from 17,982 five years earlier.

This represents a 4 per cent rise in the last five years, compared to a 19 per cent decline in the five years before.

According to BHF the numbers present a worrying slowdown, which follows decades of progress that has seen annual deaths from heart and circulatory disease half since the 1960s – partly thanks to improvements in treatments and declining smoking rates.

The trend has been blamed on the obesity epidemic and modern, sedentary lifestyles which lead to physical inactivity.

“We’ve made phenomenal progress in reducing the number of people who die of a heart attack or stroke – but we’re seeing more people die each year from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK before they reach their 75th, or even 65th, birthday," said BHF chief executive, Simon Gillespie. "We are deeply concerned by this reversal."

“Heart and circulatory diseases remain a leading cause of death in the UK, with millions at risk because of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. We need to work in partnership with governments, the NHS and medical research community to increase research investment and accelerate innovative approaches to diagnose and support the millions of people at risk of a heart attack or stroke."

The report was launched to coincide with BHF launching its new strategy, which warns against complacency and sets ambitions for the UK to halve premature death and disability from stroke, and increase heart attack survival to 90 per cent by 2030.

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The number of people dying prematurely from heart attacks and strokes in the UK has risen for the first time in 50 years.
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