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Rising numbers in Wales dying of heart and circulatory diseases before age 65

British Heart Foundation warning of working age deaths here

The number of people in Wales dying from heart and circulatory diseases before they reach their 65th birthday is rising.

It follows years of falling numbers, according to a new British Heart Foundation (BHF) report.

Figures released by the charity reveal that 1,057 people of working age in Wales died from conditions including heart attack and stroke before the age of 65 in 2017.

The report coincides with the launch of the charity’s 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% by 2030.

The proportion of all heart and circulatory disease deaths in the under 75s has also started to rise. The figures show that 30% of all heart and circulatory disease deaths in Wales in 2017 were in people under 75, compared to 25% back in 2010. 

Similarly, 12.5% of the people who died from heart and circulatory disease in Wales in 2017 were under 65, compared to 10.6% five years earlier.

The charity says it means each day around seven families across Wales are losing a loved one to these conditions before they’ve reached their 75th birthday.

BHF Cymru also warns that uncontrolled and undiagnosed risk factors and stark inequalities could lead to rising deaths in younger people. The report shows that:

·         In Wales nearly 200,000 adults have been diagnosed with diabetes but it’s estimated thousands more have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

·         More than 700,000 adults in Wales have high blood pressure, but at least 200,000 are estimated to be undiagnosed

·         570,000 adults in Wales are obese, accounting for 22% of the adult population

·         Premature death rates for heart and circulatory disease in some of the less affluent areas of Wales are twice as high as some of the most affluent.

This new information follows decades of progress that has seen annual deaths from heart and circulatory disease half in Wales since the 1960s, partly thanks to improvements in treatments and changing lifestyles including declining smoking rates.

The BHF has developed a new strategy to make sure those with existing conditions and risk factors are detected and treated early, with more effective medicines and interventions. They aim to ensure that everyone, regardless of factors like gender, age, ethnicity, or where they live, has access to the treatment, care and support that they need.

Adam Fletcher, Head of BHF Cymru, said:

“In Wales and the rest of the UK we’ve made phenomenal progress in reducing the number of people who die of a heart attack or stroke each day. But these figures show a worrying and unnecessary slowdown in the pace of progress. The result is that we’re seeing more people die each year from heart and circulatory diseases in Wales before they reach their 65th birthday.”

“It’s vital that we guard against complacency. Heart and circulatory diseases are still a leading cause of death in Wales, and the biggest globally.

“We need to work in partnership with Welsh Government, NHS Wales and medical research community to accelerate research into improving treatments further. With the continued commitment of our researchers and the public’s generous support, we hope that the next ten years will see us make unparalleled progress towards our vision of a world free from the fear of heart and circulatory diseases."

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