Heart disease and stroke deaths on the rise in younger people

New figures show that while stroke and heart disease deaths are falling overall, they’re on the rise in younger people 


Heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK and stroke is a major cause of disability. But death rates from heart disease and stroke have been falling since 2001.  Now, two new sets of figures show that while this trend continues overall, more and more younger people are affected. 

Stroke deaths falling, but more younger people are having a stroke

Researchers at the University of Oxford wanted to find out whether the recent global fall in stroke deaths was due to fewer people having a stroke, or better survival afterwards. 

They looked at hospital and mortality data for almost 800,000 who had a stroke between 2001 and 2010. Their results showed that the total death rates from stroke fell by more than half (55%) and “most of the reduction in stroke mortality is a result of improved survival of patients with stroke”. The total number of people who had a stroke fell by 20%, while the number who died from a stroke fell by 40%.  

They argued for the importance of prevention for reducing the problems caused by stroke and reducing the costs for the NHS. 

Worryingly, they also saw that strokes rose by 2% per year in the under 55s. This is in contrasts to other age groups where stroke rates fell. 

Read more about the research published in the BMJ and the linked editorial. 

Heart disease deaths in under 75s see the first sustain rise in 50 years 

Also this May, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) published their analysis of the latest national health statistics. They found that the number of people under 75 dying from diseases of the heart and blood vessels rose for the first time in 50 years.

Between 2014 and 2017, over 42,384 people under 75 died from conditions such as heart attack and stroke, compared to 41,042 in the three years before that. A difference of 1,342. 

Even more troubling is the trend seen in under 65s, where there has been a 4% rise in deaths from these conditions in the last five years. 

Progress has been made over recent decades with death rates falling due to better healthcare and lifestyle changes like improved smoking rates. But the research showed the fall in death rates had been slowing for a number of years, before this recent reversal in trends. 

The BHF released the figures to launch their new strategy which sets ambitions to halve premature death and disability from stroke, and raise heart attack survival to 90% by 2030. 

Read more from the BHF. 

Katharine Jenner, CEO of Blood Pressure UK explains: 

"It was already becoming apparent that stroke and heart attacks were on the rise in younger people, and these figures confirm this troubling trend. 

"Blood pressure tends to raise with age, but salt in processed foods, not exercising enough, carrying extra weight and drinking more alcohol than is recommended can all raise your blood pressure. This means that even people in their 30s, 40s and 50s can have high blood pressure, which leads to diseases of the heart and blood vessels, ultimately causing strokes and heart attacks."  

Hemini Bharadia, Marketing Manager at Blood Pressure UK says:   

"High blood pressure is responsible for more than half of all strokes and heart attacks, but half of people with high blood pressure are not diagnosed or receiving treatment. Getting a blood pressure check can be the first step in preventing these devastating and often fatal illnesses.

"If you don’t know your blood pressure numbers, get them checked, no matter what your age. Come and get a free check during this year’s 
Know Your Numers! Week, our campaign to raise awareness of high blood pressure, or visit your GP or local pharmacy."