Heart disease still the UK’s biggest killer despite falling death rates

Heart disease remains the UK’s biggest killer, even though deaths have almost halved in a decade, data shows.

A new study from Imperial College London found the death rate from heart disease fell dramatically between 2005 and 2015, from 80 deaths per 100,000 people to 46 per 100,000.

Experts said fewer people smoking had fuelled the drop but warned that obesity, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure kept the death rates too high.

Heart disease still caused double the deaths from lung cancer (the second biggest killer) in 2015 and 18 times the number of deaths caused by road traffic accidents.

Stroke was found to be the third largest cause of death in the UK, with 24 deaths per 100,000 people.

Dr Alexandra Nowbar, from Imperial’s National Heart and Lung Institute, said: “Much of the decline in heart disease deaths may be due to a fall in the number of people who smoke.

“We’ve seen a significant drop in smoking rates in recent years, which has been good news for our hearts.

“However, obesity, blood pressure and rates of Type 2 diabetes are on the rise, and if we don’t keep tabs on these – and encourage people to follow healthy lifestyles – we could see the trend of falling heart disease deaths reverse in the future.”

The research was published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.