A major new report published today (Monday 19 February) sends a stark warning to the government that rising ill health from cholesterol-related cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) will undermine its plans for people to work for longer. The result may be a crisis in the increased pension and NHS costs of an ageing population.
The report, from cholesterol charity HEART UK, entitled Cholesterol and the ageing population; avoiding the crisis in health and pension costs, shows:
Cardiovascular disease is the nation's biggest killer, with more than 120,000 deaths in 2005. In 2004, nine times more women died of heart disease than breast cancer. Cholesterol is the single greatest risk factor for heart disease. It is also a major risk factor in stroke and in the cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes and obesity.
It is estimated that over two-thirds of UK adults have cholesterol levels higher than recommended healthy levels. For most people, unhealthy levels of cholesterol can be avoided simply by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.
The report, which was funded by means of an educational grant provided by Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited and Schering-Plough Limited, identifies:
Professor Andrew Neil, Chairman of HEART UK, said: "In recent years, the NHS has made fantastic improvements in preventing deaths from heart disease. But the number of people developing and living with heart disease is spiralling, and the result is our government is sleepwalking into a potential health and pensions crisis."
An ICM survey conducted for HEART UK also released today (Monday 19 February) reveals the need and desire for a greater understanding in heart health. Almost half of those surveyed incorrectly believed cancer was a greater threat to their health than heart disease – 48% said that they would like information on how to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle from their GP practice.