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Biggest killer diseases in Cambridgeshire revealed

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Circulatory diseases are the biggest killer in Cambridge
Circulatory diseases are the biggest killer in Cambridge

Differences in most common causes of death in Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and East Cambridgeshire emerge

More than a quarter of deaths in Cambridge in 2016 were from circulatory diseases
More than a quarter of deaths in Cambridge in 2016 were from circulatory diseases

Cambridge’s biggest killer diseases have been revealed – and heart conditions and strokes are claiming hundreds of lives.

Circulatory diseases – and not cancer – are the main cause of death for people in the city area, new research shows.

The statistics come from Public Health England, the Government agency set up to help people live healthier lives.

The data covers 2016, the most recent period for which figures are available, and it shows that of 839 deaths recorded in Cambridge, 226 people died from circulatory disease, which includes heart failure, coronary artery disease, strokes and hypertension.

That is 26.9 per cent of the death total in Cambridge, and although the percentage is down from 28.8 per cent in 2011, when 214 patients died from circulatory disease, it is still above the average rate for England as a whole, 25.5 per cent.

Jacob West, director of healthcare innovation at the British Heart Foundation, said there had been advances in treating the condition, and there had been a drop in the number of people smoking.

But he added: “Progress has slowed since 2011 and 150,000 people still die from heart and circulatory disease in the UK each year, with many more living with debilitating conditions like heart failure if they do survive.

“Socio-economic factors have a significant effect on someone’s risk of heart and circulatory diseases, with research suggesting this is largely due to unhealthier lifestyles and being less likely to report any warning signs to their GP. We can’t think that heart and circulatory disease is a ticked box – it remains the world’s biggest killer and the problem isn’t going away.”

After circulatory disease, cancer was the second deadliest illness in Cambridge, accounting for 26.5 per cent of deaths.

Causes of death
Causes of death

In South Cambridgeshire and East Cambridgeshire, cancer is the biggest fatal disease.

In the south of the county, it was responsible for one in three deaths in 2016, among the highest rates in England. The total was 369 from 1,153 deaths, or 32 per cent, up from 28.9 per cent in 2011, when 280 patients died from the disease. The national death rate is 28 per cent.

After cancer, circulatory diseases were the second biggest killer in South Cambridgeshire, causing 24.6 per cent of deaths, down from 31 per cent in 2011.

In East Cambridgeshire, of 719 deaths in 2016, 209 people died from cancer, a total of 29.1 per cent. That is down from 30.7 per cent in 2011 when 206 lives were lost. Circulatory diseases were second in the death league table – 25.9 per cent of deaths, down from 29.3 per cent in 2011.

Helen Rippon, chief executive of Worldwide Cancer Research, said: “Some types of cancer have benefited incredibly from research, with a person’s chance of survival pushing upwards of 90 per cent. Others have not fared as well and survival rates are still as low as they were in 1970. Historically, less funding has been given to some types of cancer, which somewhat explains the discrepancies in survival rates.

“The proportion of deaths caused by cancer in the UK is slightly higher than seen in Europe as a whole, where cancer accounts for 20 per cent of all deaths. To understand why some places may have higher or lower numbers of people dying from cancer you need to be able to take everything into account, including dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors, the prevalence of genes in the population that are known to increase cancer risk and the ease of access to health care.”

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner said: “These figures show that despite improvements in medical techniques, too many people in Cambridge are still losing too many years of potential active and happy life. The NHS does a great job dealing with people in crisis, but many of the challenges around earlier diagnosis and improving lifestyle require investment in our care services which have been cut so hard by the current government.

“We face a big choice ahead – spend more on these vital services, or see more people, particularly those from poorer backgrounds, lose years off their lives.”

Sandie Smith, chief executive of Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which represents people who use the county’s health and social care services, said the organisation is working to give people diagnosed with serious illnesses a better experience of the healthcare system, including curbing long waiting lists.

She said: “People think there are long waiting times for cancer appointments, but there is now a quick turn-around, two weeks. We’re also keen to see the system simplified, such as having medical staff contact people by phone, letter or email when they have news such as results to pass on, rather than having patients go into hospital for appointments.”

Juliet Bouverie, chief executive at the Stroke Association, which supports the Cambridge Stroke Group, told the Cambridge Independent too many people were still not aware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke, and how to avoid one.

She said: “There’s lots to do in terms of the prevention messages getting across. This isn’t just a problem in Cambridge but across the country.

“Despite stroke being the UK’s fourth biggest killer and a leading cause of disability, not enough people are aware of its devastating impact until it touches their lives or those of their loved ones.

“Thanks to scientific breakthroughs and improvements to stroke care, more people than ever are surviving a stroke, but the condition still kills more people than breast cancer or prostate cancer and almost two thirds of stroke survivors leave hospital with life-changing disabilities. The good news is that stroke is a largely preventable conditions and people can, and do, recover very well after their stroke.

“As the UK’s only national charity dedicated to stroke we work very closely with stroke survivors. Their experiences and needs are central to our work, and enable us to be at the forefront of stroke prevention, treatment and care. Over the last 10 years, we have invested over £23million in stroke research and our collaboration with partners, such as the British Heart Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Society, has saved lives and helped stroke survivors recover.”

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