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Life expectancy: preventing heart disease will do most to reduce disparities, report finds

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k5291 (Published 13 December 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k5291
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

No single cause can be found for the slowdown in life expectancy improvement seen in the UK, a report from Public Health England (PHE) has concluded.1

It does not rule out the belt tightening in health and social care that began in 2011 and has coincided with higher mortality and a life expectancy slowdown, but neither does it give this the prominence accorded by some commentators.

The report concludes that slowing improvements in heart disease and stroke, high winter mortality from flu in several recent years, the growth of dementia as a recorded cause of death, and more deaths from drug misuse among younger people have all played a part.

International trends

Similar trends in mortality and life expectancy have been seen throughout Europe and the US over the same period, so a UK specific explanation is unlikely to be correct. But the trends visible everywhere are more pronounced in the UK, which showed the lowest rate of improvement among all large EU countries …

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