Lifestyle Changes and Better Healthcare Could Prevent One in Four Deaths
Figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that one in four deaths in England and Wales could be avoided with lifestyle changes and better healthcare. Experts believe that of the 506,790 deaths recorded in the two countries in 2013, 23% could have responded to treatment, or been prevented through public health measures.
The figures for avoidable deaths fell significantly between 2001 and 2012, mainly due to advances in treating diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Coronary heart disease is still the most common cause of avoidable death overall. The trend stalled in 2013, leading some public health experts to consider whether advances in medical treatment, as well as decreases in the number of smokers, are now being undermined by an increase in obesity and type 2 diabetes.
English Health Minister Ben Gummer admitted more needs to be done to prevent health inequalities. “We want everybody to have the same opportunity to lead a healthy life and aim to be the best in Europe at reducing premature mortality. Local authorities have been given a budget of £8.2bn over three years to help tackle the public health priorities in their communities,” he said.
The latest figures have once more opened up debate on regional differences, with the biggest decrease in avoidable deaths seen in London, where rates were down 38% for men and 36% for women. The smallest decrease was found in the south-west of England.