Health is being affected more in poorer areas

  • There has been much less improvement in deaths by heart disease for people in poorer areas, even though the death rate itself has improved a lot since the 1980s.

    The research in the International Journal of Epidemiology, shows the gap between richer and poorer has widened, and causes worry with the upcoming devolution of public health responsibilities.

    The places with the highest death rates were areas around Manchester and Liverpool, parts of Yorkshire, around Birmingham, and deprived boroughs of London..

    Deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) have more than halved across England overall, however the rates for men and women aged 65 or older, the decline was smaller in the most deprived communities, which has meant that the gap between the richest and poorest areas is wider.

    The researchers say the findings are important because the current poor economic situation and austerity measures are likely to disproportionately affect more deprived communities.

    And they warn that the forthcoming devolution of public health responsibilities to local authorities might also put some communities at risk.

    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

    As public health gets taken up by local authorities, there's a danger that health budgets will have to compete with other services such as schools.

    Prof Majid Ezzati, who also worked on the research, said a major aim of the study was to find out what was being done to help people in different places and what could be done differently.

    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.

    The communities that need help the most must not be forgotten, and targeted interventions in the poorest neighbourhoods will help address a problem which has dogged this country for decades.

    Source: BBC News






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