Rising levels of obesity and diabetes may be affecting the decline in death rates from coronary heart disease (CHD) in young women, UK researchers have warned.
A study of all deaths from CHD in England and Wales from 1931 to 2005 – published online in the BMC Public Health journal - showed that mortality from heart disease has been declining steadily since the mid 1970s.
But researchers from the universities of Oxford and Manchester said the death rates in women under 50 have started to plateau, and may even begin to rise in the future.
They said the ‘disturbing’ recent trends in cardiovascular risk factors in young people may be partly to blame - obesity and diabetes levels have been rising in younger age groups over the last ten years, physical activity levels have fallen and 20% of women under 45 are smokers
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘It’s a common misconception that heart disease is a male problem, yet cardiovascular disease is the biggest cause of premature death in women.
‘Heart disease should be a very real issue for all women, and younger generations must take action now to cut down their risks.’