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Heart disease hits deprived areas hardest

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Poor people are more likely to die from heart disease than their rich counterparts, research has found, as scientists urged the government to address the inequalities in death rates.

Even though there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of deaths from coronary heart disease (CHD) in England, the improvement rates differ between the affluent and the deprived.

Researchers from University College London found that between 2000 and 2007, mortality rates fell by 36%.

Death rates among affluent people fell at a rate of 6.7% each year compared with 4.9% for those from the most deprived areas.

Half of the fall in deaths was attributed to treatment uptake, and this figure was the same across all socio-economic groups.

Another factor contributing to the lower death rate was improvements in healthy lifestyle choices.

But in the most deprived areas, the benefits of giving up smoking, improved levels of physical activity and lower levels of blood pressure and cholesterol were partly negated by rises in body mass index and diabetes, according to the study, which appears in this week’s PLoS Medicine.

The authors wrote: “The net gains from risk factor improvements were small, reflecting modest recent decreases in powerful cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking and cholesterol, and further eroded by continuing rises in BMI and diabetes.”

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