The life expectancy for people living in England rose by 5.4 years between 1990 and 2013 according to a study published in The Lancet.
The study analysed data on England from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. This compared the causes of death and mortality rates from 18 countries, including the UK, USA, France, and Germany. It found that life expectancy in England had increased from 75.9 years in 1990 to 81.3 years in 2013. The study’s authors explained that this is due to a fall in deaths due to conditions such COPD, which saw a fall in mortality rates of 19.3%, diabetes, which fell by 50.4%, and cerebrovascular disease, which fell by 46.2%.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at The British Heart Foundation, said: 'This study shows how successful the UK has been at reducing deaths from cardiovascular and other diseases through the application of research findings on behaviours such as diet and smoking to improve public health. The burden of disease remains high in the most disadvantaged sectors of our society and our ageing population is increasingly facing multiple medical problems. Much would be gained if public health strategies could be devised to address this inequality and raise standards in all regions to match those of the best regions in the UK.’
Despite the encouraging results on life expectancy, the study also notes that there are health inequalities between affluent and deprived areas in England. The South East of England, which is the least deprived region of the country, had the lowest disease burden, compared to areas such as the North West which has higher levels of deprivation. The study also noted that there had been no improvement in this disparity since 1990, as people living in deprived areas in 2013 still have not reached the life expectancy of people living in affluent areas in 1990.
Dr Adam Briggs, co-author of the study, said: ‘Life expectancy is increasing across the country but large inequalities still remain. Life expectancy in 2013 for those living in the most deprived areas was still lower than those in less deprived areas in 1990. How deprived you are is the key driver of these differences rather than where you live and therefore deprivation and its causes need to be tackled wherever they occur.’