Tag Archives: heart

Revealed: NHS cuts could target heart attack patients in Surrey and Sussex

Patients at risk of a heart attack could be denied vital tests and potentially life-saving operations under NHS plans to make £55m of budget cuts in Surrey and Sussex, the Guardian can reveal.

NHS organisations in Surrey and Sussex are considering restricting the number of patients who have an angiogram or an angioplasty – the insertion of stents to tackle blocked arteries – despite the evidence that both procedures reduce the risk of patients dying.

The disclosure came as senior Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the Commons health select committee, urged ministers to scrap the “capped expenditure process” – the secretive cost-cutting regime which the NHS is imposing on 14 areas of England in a bid to save £500m – because it involves “draconian” cuts to services that will hit patient care.

“I don’t think that these extra cuts are reasonable. You can’t justify £500m to the DUP while taking another £500m out of the English NHS,” she told the Guardian.

“The kind of issues that are being discussed [in the 14 areas subject to the CEP] would involve draconian measures that would have an impact on public health and services. [And] I do have concerns about ultimately patient safety.”

Hospitals routinely use an angiogram to assess the health of a patient’s heart. The number of people in the UK undergoing angioplasty has risen eightfold since the early 1990s to almost 100,000 a year, reflecting its growing popularity as a non-invasive alternative to a heart bypass.

Cutting the number of people who have either is one of a range of options which NHS bosses in Surrey and Sussex are considering in order to save £55m more under the CEP by March 2018 than the £106m of “efficiency savings” already agreed.

NHS bodies in Surrey and Sussex privately admit that fewer people will have those procedures as part of their plan to save the £55m by reducing “huge variation” in patients’ chances of having one, depending on which hospital they are treated at and which cardiologist they see. “We have to rationalise cardiac investigations and treatments. There’s variation of 60% to 70% between hospitals. We’re looking into why that is. Who in future won’t get an angiogram? That’ll be up to cardiologists,” said one senior doctor.

In future an unknown number of patients at risk of a heart attack will be monitored by “watchful waiting” rather than given an angiogram or angioplasty, the doctor explained.

Senior NHS sources in the area have disclosed that they are also being forced to consider proposals to:

  • Ration knee arthroscopy operations, cataract removals and tonsillectomies
  • Introduce “lifestyle rationing” so that patients who are obese and smoke will have to lose weight and stop smoking before they can have, for example, a knee replacement to treat their arthritis
  • Shut beds or even whole wards in community hospitals
  • Restrict patients’ access to hearing aids and IVF treatment

“We have been told to leave no stone unturned and think the unthinkable [in the quest to save the £55m],” one local senior NHS figure said, speaking anonymously.

“It’s quite delusional to think we can take out the £106m already planned and now this extra £55m so quickly. But NHS England have told us to do this. The trouble is that, after making lots of efficiency savings in recent years, there is very little fat to take out,” the official added.

NHS organisations in Surrey and Sussex tasked with pursuing the savings drive confirmed that access could be reduced to many different types of care. “We have been looking at all treatments and procedures provided across our area,” they said in a joint statement.

“There is considerable variation in the thresholds and criteria applied before patients are referred for treatment. We want to ensure that referral decisions are based on the latest clinical evidence of what works and are applied consistently, delivering the best value for money for the public and fairness for patients.”

The bodies made clear that they have to contemplate such controversial measures because NHSE and NHSI have told them to save the £55m. Despite already having “ambitious financial plans for 2017-18 … collectively, the plans would overspend by £55m against the financial ‘control total’ that has been set by NHS England and NHS Improvement,” they added.

Heart specialists warned that patients’ health could suffer if decisions about who had either procedure was made on anything other than purely medical grounds. “Any restriction on angiography or angioplasties should be based on clinical criteria and guidelines to ensure no adverse effect on patient care and health,” said Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, the medical director of the British Heart Foundation.

The British Cardiology Society, which represents heart specialists, underlined the importance of both procedures as measures to help save lives. A spokeswoman said: “Cardiovascular disease remains a significant burden to the UK and requires appropriate investigation and management to reduce mortality and morbidity. Despite significant reductions in mortality through medical and invasive treatments both primary and secondary preventive strategies remain important.”

The Royal College of Surgeons said introducing “lifestyle rationing” was “wrong”. A spokesman said: “There is no clinical guidance from NICE, the Royal College of Surgeons and other surgical associations to support restrictions for routine surgery on the basis of whether patients smoke or are overweight.

Saving the £55m this year will prove to be a false economy that costs the NHS more money in the long term, warned Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust health thinktank.

“Many of these cutbacks in procedures will only save money in the short term. If they go ahead, this will mean putting off treating patients whose hip and eye conditions will worsen and must be treated eventually. Getting savings out will also require cutting staff,” he said.

This story was amended to correct the statement that a number of cabinet ministers’ seats are in the affected area.

Revealed: NHS cuts could target heart attack patients in Surrey and Sussex

Patients at risk of a heart attack could be denied vital tests and potentially life-saving operations under NHS plans to make £55m of budget cuts in an area in which four cabinet ministers are local MPs, the Guardian can reveal.

NHS organisations in Surrey and Sussex are considering restricting the number of patients who have an angiogram or an angioplasty – the insertion of stents to tackle blocked arteries – despite the evidence that both procedures reduce the risk of patients dying.

The disclosure came as senior Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the Commons health select committee, urged ministers to scrap the “capped expenditure process” – the secretive cost-cutting regime which the NHS is imposing on 14 areas of England in a bid to save £500m – because it involves “draconian” cuts to services that will hit patient care.

“I don’t think that these extra cuts are reasonable. You can’t justify £500m to the DUP while taking another £500m out of the English NHS,” she told the Guardian.

“The kind of issues that are being discussed [in the 14 areas subject to the CEP] would involve draconian measures that would have an impact on public health and services. [And] I do have concerns about ultimately patient safety.”

Hospitals routinely use an angiogram to assess the health of a patient’s heart. The number of people in the UK undergoing angioplasty has risen eightfold since the early 1990s to almost 100,000 a year, reflecting its growing popularity as a non-invasive alternative to a heart bypass.

Cutting the number of people who have either is one of a range of options which NHS bosses in Surrey and Sussex are considering in order to save £55m more under the CEP by March 2018 than the £106m of “efficiency savings” already agreed.

NHS bodies in Surrey and Sussex privately admit that fewer people will have those procedures as part of their plan to save the £55m by reducing “huge variation” in patients’ chances of having one, depending on which hospital they are treated at and which cardiologist they see. “We have to rationalise cardiac investigations and treatments. There’s variation of 60% to 70% between hospitals. We’re looking into why that is. Who in future won’t get an angiogram? That’ll be up to cardiologists,” said one senior doctor.

In future an unknown number of patients at risk of a heart attack will be monitored by “watchful waiting” rather than given an angiogram or angioplasty, the doctor explained.

Senior NHS sources in the area have disclosed that they are also being forced to consider proposals to:

  • Ration knee arthroscopy operations, cataract removals and tonsillectomies
  • Introduce “lifestyle rationing” so that patients who are obese and smoke will have to lose weight and stop smoking before they can have, for example, a knee replacement to treat their arthritis
  • Shut beds or even whole wards in community hospitals
  • Restrict patients’ access to hearing aids and IVF treatment

“We have been told to leave no stone unturned and think the unthinkable [in the quest to save the £55m],” one local senior NHS figure said, speaking anonymously.

“It’s quite delusional to think we can take out the £106m already planned and now this extra £55m so quickly. But NHS England have told us to do this. The trouble is that, after making lots of efficiency savings in recent years, there is very little fat to take out,” the official added.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond (Runnymede and Weybridge), and the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt (South West Surrey), both represent Surrey in parliament, as do Michael Gove (Surrey Heath), the environment secretary, and Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell), the transport secretary. When the Guardian asked all four to comment, all declined to offer a view on the £55m cuts plan, the existence of which had been kept secret

NHS organisations in Surrey and Sussex tasked with pursuing the savings drive confirmed that access could be reduced to many different types of care. “We have been looking at all treatments and procedures provided across our area,” they said in a joint statement.

“There is considerable variation in the thresholds and criteria applied before patients are referred for treatment. We want to ensure that referral decisions are based on the latest clinical evidence of what works and are applied consistently, delivering the best value for money for the public and fairness for patients.”

The bodies made clear that they have to contemplate such controversial measures because NHSE and NHSI have told them to save the £55m. Despite already having “ambitious financial plans for 2017-18 … collectively, the plans would overspend by £55m against the financial ‘control total’ that has been set by NHS England and NHS Improvement,” they added.

Heart specialists warned that patients’ health could suffer if decisions about who had either procedure was made on anything other than purely medical grounds. “Any restriction on angiography or angioplasties should be based on clinical criteria and guidelines to ensure no adverse effect on patient care and health,” said Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, the medical director of the British Heart Foundation.

The British Cardiology Society, which represents heart specialists, underlined the importance of both procedures as measures to help save lives. A spokeswoman said: “Cardiovascular disease remains a significant burden to the UK and requires appropriate investigation and management to reduce mortality and morbidity. Despite significant reductions in mortality through medical and invasive treatments both primary and secondary preventive strategies remain important.”

The Royal College of Surgeons said introducing “lifestyle rationing” was “wrong”. A spokesman said: “There is no clinical guidance from NICE, the Royal College of Surgeons and other surgical associations to support restrictions for routine surgery on the basis of whether patients smoke or are overweight.

Saving the £55m this year will prove to be a false economy that costs the NHS more money in the long term, warned Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust health thinktank.

“Many of these cutbacks in procedures will only save money in the short term. If they go ahead, this will mean putting off treating patients whose hip and eye conditions will worsen and must be treated eventually. Getting savings out will also require cutting staff,” he said.

Long working days can cause heart problems, study says

A long hours office culture can affect more than just your social life – long days at work can be bad for your heart as well, according to a major study.

It’s been established that too many hours in the office can increase the risk of a stroke. Now it seems that clocking up more than 55 hours a week means a 40% higher chance of developing an irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation (AF), when compared to those with a better work-life balance.

AF happens because the natural electrical impulses controlling the heart’s normal regular rhythm lose their co-ordination. Sufferers may get palpitations – the sensation of a racing or irregular pulse – as well as feeling breathless and dizzy.

But some people with AF get no symptoms at all, which is why the British Heart Foundation encourages people to check whether their pulse is regular and to see a GP if they have any doubts. It’s important to diagnose AF because it increases the chance of having a stroke five-fold, and blood thinning treatments can greatly lower this risk.

The research team, led by Professor Mika Kivimaki from the department of epidemiology at University College, London, analysed data on the working patterns of 85,494 mainly middle-aged men and women drawn from the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

Participants were put into groups according to their work pattern, with 35-40 hours a week regarded as the control group. No one had AF at the start of the study, published in the European Heart Journal.

After 10 years of follow-up, an average of 12.4 per 1,000 people had developed AF, but among those working 55 hours or more, this figure was higher at 17.6 per 1,000 people.

Those working the longest hours were more overweight, had higher blood pressure, smoked more and and consumed more alcohol. But the team’s conclusions about longer working hours and AF still remained after taking these factors into account.

The researchers acknowledge some limitations to their study: they only asked participants about working hours at the start, and so couldn’t account for how working patterns might have changed over 10 years. The team also could not tell whether any particular job type was more risky.

Kivimaki offered worried workers some reassurance. “For a healthy person, the risk of AF is very low, and a 1.4-fold increase in that small risk due to long working hours does not much change the situation.”

Tim Chico, a Sheffield cardiologist not involved with the study also had some helpful advice for those concerned that their job might harm their heart: “Most people who work long hours won’t have the luxury of being able to change their working patterns. We already know that obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking all increase the risk of AF and so people can reduce their risk of AF by addressing these factors without needing to find another job!”

Long working days can cause heart problems, study says

A long hours office culture can affect more than just your social life – long days at work can be bad for your heart as well, according to a major study.

It’s been established that too many hours in the office can increase the risk of a stroke. Now it seems that clocking up more than 55 hours a week means a 40% higher chance of developing an irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation (AF), when compared to those with a better work-life balance.

AF happens because the natural electrical impulses controlling the heart’s normal regular rhythm lose their co-ordination. Sufferers may get palpitations – the sensation of a racing or irregular pulse – as well as feeling breathless and dizzy.

But some people with AF get no symptoms at all, which is why the British Heart Foundation encourages people to check whether their pulse is regular and to see a GP if they have any doubts. It’s important to diagnose AF because it increases the chance of having a stroke five-fold, and blood thinning treatments can greatly lower this risk.

The research team, led by Professor Mika Kivimaki from the department of epidemiology at University College, London, analysed data on the working patterns of 85,494 mainly middle-aged men and women drawn from the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

Participants were put into groups according to their work pattern, with 35-40 hours a week regarded as the control group. No one had AF at the start of the study, published in the European Heart Journal.

After 10 years of follow-up, an average of 12.4 per 1,000 people had developed AF, but among those working 55 hours or more, this figure was higher at 17.6 per 1,000 people.

Those working the longest hours were more overweight, had higher blood pressure, smoked more and and consumed more alcohol. But the team’s conclusions about longer working hours and AF still remained after taking these factors into account.

The researchers acknowledge some limitations to their study: they only asked participants about working hours at the start, and so couldn’t account for how working patterns might have changed over 10 years. The team also could not tell whether any particular job type was more risky.

Kivimaki offered worried workers some reassurance. “For a healthy person, the risk of AF is very low, and a 1.4-fold increase in that small risk due to long working hours does not much change the situation.”

Tim Chico, a Sheffield cardiologist not involved with the study also had some helpful advice for those concerned that their job might harm their heart: “Most people who work long hours won’t have the luxury of being able to change their working patterns. We already know that obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking all increase the risk of AF and so people can reduce their risk of AF by addressing these factors without needing to find another job!”

Coffee ‘cuts risk of dying from heart disease’ – video

Research has found that drinking three or more cups of coffee a day can cut the risk of dying by between 8% and 18%. Scientists suggest drinking coffee lowers the risk of dying from a host of causes, including heart disease, stroke and liver disease. However, experts say it is unclear whether the health boost is down to the brew itself.

Coffee cuts risk of dying from stroke and heart disease, study suggests

People who drink coffee have a lower risk of dying from a host of causes, including heart disease, stroke and liver disease, research suggests – but experts say it’s unclear whether the health boost is down to the brew itself.

The connection, revealed in two large studies, was found to hold regardless of whether the coffee was caffeinated or not, with the effect higher among those who drank more cups of coffee a day.

But scientists say that the link might just be down to coffee-drinkers having healthier behaviours.

“It is plausible that there is something else behind this that is causing this relationship,” said Marc Gunter, a co-author of one of the studies, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

But, he added, based on the consistency of the results he would be surprised if coffee itself didn’t play a role in reducing the risk of death.

About 2.25bn cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day. While previous studies have suggested coffee might have health benefits, the latest research involves large and diverse cohorts of participants.

The first study looked at coffee consumption among more than 185,000 white and non-white participants, recruited in the early 1990s and followed up for an average of over 16 years. The results revealed that drinking one cup of coffee a day was linked to a 12% lower risk of death at any age, from any cause while those drinking two or three cups a day had an 18% lower risk, with the association not linked to ethnicity.

“We found that coffee drinkers had a reduced risk of death from heart disease, from cancer, from stroke, respiratory disease, diabetes and kidney disease,” said Veronica Setiawan, associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California and a co-author of the research.

The second study – the largest of its kind – involved more than 450,000 participants, recruited between 1992 and 2000 across ten European countries, who were again followed for just over 16 years on average. “We felt this analysis would capture some of [the] variation in coffee preparation methods and drinking habits,” said Gunter.

After a range of factors including age, smoking status, physical activity and education were taken into account, those who drank three or more cups a day were found to have a 18% lower risk of death for men, and a 8% lower risk of death for women at any age, compared with those who didn’t drink the brew. The benefits were found to hold regardless of the country, although coffee drinking was not linked to a lower risk of death for all types of cancer.

The study also looked at a subset of 14,800 participants, finding that coffee-drinkers had better results on many biological markers including liver enzymes and glucose control. “We know many of these biological factors are related to different health outcomes, so it is another piece of the puzzle,” said Gunter.

But experts warn that the two studies, both published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, do not show that drinking coffee was behind the overall lower risk, pointing out that it could be that coffee drinkers are healthier in various ways or that those who are unwell drink less coffee.

In addition, levels of coffee-drinking were self-reported, some participants consumed both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and the European study only looked at coffee consumption levels at one point in time – all factors which could have affected the results.

“It is not necessarily the coffee drinking per se, it is that fact that there are other things about your lifestyle or the lack of ill-health that might be causing the association,” said Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, pointing out that while coffee might have beneficial effects, it would take randomised trials to be sure.

Authors of both studies also agreed more work is needed, and said that it was unclear which of the many biologically active components within the coffee might potentially be driving the health benefits. “This is an observational study,” said Setiawan. “We cannot say, OK, [if] you drink coffee it is going to prolong your life.”

Gunter agreed. “I wouldn’t recommend people start rushing out drinking lots of coffee, but I think what it does suggests is drinking coffee certainly does you no harm,” he said. “It can be part of a healthy diet.”

Sattar also urged caution. “If people enjoy their coffee they can relax and enjoy their coffee,” he said, adding that people should not imagine that drinking extra coffee would militate against “other bad health behaviours”.

UK heart disease deaths fall by over 20% since indoor smoking ban

Deaths from heart disease and strokes caused by smoking have fallen dramatically since lighting up in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed public places in England was banned 10 years ago.

New figures have shown that the number of smokers aged 35 and over dying from heart attacks and other cardiac conditions has dropped by over 20% since 2007 while fatalities from a stroke are almost 14% down.

The statistics, which Public Health England (PHE) has shared with the Guardian, come as medical, public health and anti-tobacco groups prepare to mark the 10th anniversary next Friday of smoking being prohibited in indoor public places by Tony Blair’s Labour government on 1 July 2007.

Figures collected by PHE’s Local Tobacco Control Profiles network show that while there were 32,548 deaths from heart disease attributable to smoking in 2007-09, there were 25,777 between 2013 and 2015 – a fall of 20.8%. Similarly, a total of 9,743 smokers died from a stroke in 2007-09, but fewer – 8,334 – between 2013 and 2015, a drop of 14.5%.

Duncan Selbie, PHE’s chief executive, hailed the figures as proof of the ban’s huge beneficial impact on health. “The law has played a key part in the huge cultural change we have seen in the past decade, especially among younger people, a change that has literally saved thousands from disabling chronic diseases and premature death,” he told the Guardian.

“The smokefree legislation has been extraordinary in the way we now experience and enjoy pubs, clubs, restaurants and so many other public places. It was undoubtedly the single most important public health reform in generations,” he added.

The decline in smoking-related heart deaths is especially significant because smoking still accounts for about one in every six deaths in England – about 79,000 people a year. Fatalities due to heart disease make up a substantial proportion of them. Smoking-related deaths are three times more likely to occur among poorer people than those from better-off backgrounds, research showed.

The Health Act 2006, which introduced the ban in England, was the first of 10 pieces of legislation over 10 years that have helped drive down smoking’s popularity to its lowest level ever, Selbie said. The numbers of people across the UK who smoke has fallen over the last year from 17.2% to 15.8%, according to the most recent figures from NHS Digital, published last month.

England was the last UK nation to bring in a ban. Scotland did so in March 2006 and Wales and Northern Ireland followed in April 2007. The Blair government initially considered exempting bars, private clubs and pubs where no food was served. But it instead decided to impose a blanket ban after MPs and doctors criticised the exemptions as unfair, unworkable and likely to harm the health of staff breathing in secondhand smoke in premises where smoking continued.

“We’ve seen cigarettes stubbed out in public places, become far less visible in shops and had large graphic warnings put on packs starkly explaining what these things do to the human body – and all the misery and death they cause,” added Selbie.

“Its legacy has had a phenomenally positive impact on societal attitudes to smoking. Smokers have seized the opportunity by quitting in unprecedented numbers and of those still smoking, half have chosen to smoke outside their own homes to protect their families from secondhand smoke.”

Although fewer people than ever still smoke, PHE is concerned that it remains much more common among certain groups, including younger women, and is a major source of health inequalities.

For example, while just 10% of married people smoke, 21.2% of those who are single do so, as do 18.8% of those who have been widowed, divorced or separated. And while 15.7% of people who live with others smoke, 27.8% of those living alone light up. And the jobless, those in routine and manual jobs and those without a degree are between two and three times more likely than the employed, those in managerial and professional roles and graduates to use cigarettes.

“The decline in deaths since 2007 from smoking-related heart attacks and strokes shows the effectiveness of a comprehensive approach by government to tackle smoking,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health.

“But there are still over 30,000 premature deaths a year from smoking-related heart attacks and stroke, and the government strategy for tackling this public health epidemic expired at the end of 2015. We need an ambitious new government strategy to be put in place immediately if deaths from smoking are to decline as fast in the next decade as they have in the last.”

UK heart disease deaths fall by over 20% since indoor smoking ban

Deaths from heart disease and strokes caused by smoking have fallen dramatically since lighting up in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed public places in England was banned 10 years ago.

New figures have shown that the number of smokers aged 35 and over dying from heart attacks and other cardiac conditions has dropped by over 20% since 2007 while fatalities from a stroke are almost 14% down.

The statistics, which Public Health England (PHE) has shared with the Guardian, come as medical, public health and anti-tobacco groups prepare to mark the 10th anniversary next Friday of smoking being prohibited in indoor public places by Tony Blair’s Labour government on 1 July 2007.

Figures collected by PHE’s Local Tobacco Control Profiles network show that while there were 32,548 deaths from heart disease attributable to smoking in 2007-09, there were 25,777 between 2013 and 2015 – a fall of 20.8%. Similarly, a total of 9,743 smokers died from a stroke in 2007-09, but fewer – 8,334 – between 2013 and 2015, a drop of 14.5%.

Duncan Selbie, PHE’s chief executive, hailed the figures as proof of the ban’s huge beneficial impact on health. “The law has played a key part in the huge cultural change we have seen in the past decade, especially among younger people, a change that has literally saved thousands from disabling chronic diseases and premature death,” he told the Guardian.

“The smokefree legislation has been extraordinary in the way we now experience and enjoy pubs, clubs, restaurants and so many other public places. It was undoubtedly the single most important public health reform in generations,” he added.

The decline in smoking-related heart deaths is especially significant because smoking still accounts for about one in every six deaths in England – about 79,000 people a year. Fatalities due to heart disease make up a substantial proportion of them. Smoking-related deaths are three times more likely to occur among poorer people than those from better-off backgrounds, research showed.

The Health Act 2006, which introduced the ban in England, was the first of 10 pieces of legislation over 10 years that have helped drive down smoking’s popularity to its lowest level ever, Selbie said. The numbers of people across the UK who smoke has fallen over the last year from 17.2% to 15.8%, according to the most recent figures from NHS Digital, published last month.

England was the last UK nation to bring in a ban. Scotland did so in March 2006 and Wales and Northern Ireland followed in April 2007. The Blair government initially considered exempting bars, private clubs and pubs where no food was served. But it instead decided to impose a blanket ban after MPs and doctors criticised the exemptions as unfair, unworkable and likely to harm the health of staff breathing in secondhand smoke in premises where smoking continued.

“We’ve seen cigarettes stubbed out in public places, become far less visible in shops and had large graphic warnings put on packs starkly explaining what these things do to the human body – and all the misery and death they cause,” added Selbie.

“Its legacy has had a phenomenally positive impact on societal attitudes to smoking. Smokers have seized the opportunity by quitting in unprecedented numbers and of those still smoking, half have chosen to smoke outside their own homes to protect their families from secondhand smoke.”

Although fewer people than ever still smoke, PHE is concerned that it remains much more common among certain groups, including younger women, and is a major source of health inequalities.

For example, while just 10% of married people smoke, 21.2% of those who are single do so, as do 18.8% of those who have been widowed, divorced or separated. And while 15.7% of people who live with others smoke, 27.8% of those living alone light up. And the jobless, those in routine and manual jobs and those without a degree are between two and three times more likely than the employed, those in managerial and professional roles and graduates to use cigarettes.

“The decline in deaths since 2007 from smoking-related heart attacks and strokes shows the effectiveness of a comprehensive approach by government to tackle smoking,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health.

“But there are still over 30,000 premature deaths a year from smoking-related heart attacks and stroke, and the government strategy for tackling this public health epidemic expired at the end of 2015. We need an ambitious new government strategy to be put in place immediately if deaths from smoking are to decline as fast in the next decade as they have in the last.”

UK heart disease deaths fall by over 20% since indoor smoking ban

Deaths from heart disease and strokes caused by smoking have fallen dramatically since lighting up in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed public places in England was banned 10 years ago.

New figures have shown that the number of smokers aged 35 and over dying from heart attacks and other cardiac conditions has dropped by over 20% since 2007 while fatalities from a stroke are almost 14% down.

The statistics, which Public Health England (PHE) has shared with the Guardian, come as medical, public health and anti-tobacco groups prepare to mark the 10th anniversary next Friday of smoking being prohibited in indoor public places by Tony Blair’s Labour government on 1 July 2007.

Figures collected by PHE’s Local Tobacco Control Profiles network show that while there were 32,548 deaths from heart disease attributable to smoking in 2007-09, there were 25,777 between 2013 and 2015 – a fall of 20.8%. Similarly, a total of 9,743 smokers died from a stroke in 2007-09, but fewer – 8,334 – between 2013 and 2015, a drop of 14.5%.

Duncan Selbie, PHE’s chief executive, hailed the figures as proof of the ban’s huge beneficial impact on health. “The law has played a key part in the huge cultural change we have seen in the past decade, especially among younger people, a change that has literally saved thousands from disabling chronic diseases and premature death,” he told the Guardian.

“The smokefree legislation has been extraordinary in the way we now experience and enjoy pubs, clubs, restaurants and so many other public places. It was undoubtedly the single most important public health reform in generations,” he added.

The decline in smoking-related heart deaths is especially significant because smoking still accounts for about one in every six deaths in England – about 79,000 people a year. Fatalities due to heart disease make up a substantial proportion of them. Smoking-related deaths are three times more likely to occur among poorer people than those from better-off backgrounds, research showed.

The Health Act 2006, which introduced the ban in England, was the first of 10 pieces of legislation over 10 years that have helped drive down smoking’s popularity to its lowest level ever, Selbie said. The numbers of people across the UK who smoke has fallen over the last year from 17.2% to 15.8%, according to the most recent figures from NHS Digital, published last month.

England was the last UK nation to bring in a ban. Scotland did so in March 2006 and Wales and Northern Ireland followed in April 2007. The Blair government initially considered exempting bars, private clubs and pubs where no food was served. But it instead decided to impose a blanket ban after MPs and doctors criticised the exemptions as unfair, unworkable and likely to harm the health of staff breathing in secondhand smoke in premises where smoking continued.

“We’ve seen cigarettes stubbed out in public places, become far less visible in shops and had large graphic warnings put on packs starkly explaining what these things do to the human body – and all the misery and death they cause,” added Selbie.

“Its legacy has had a phenomenally positive impact on societal attitudes to smoking. Smokers have seized the opportunity by quitting in unprecedented numbers and of those still smoking, half have chosen to smoke outside their own homes to protect their families from secondhand smoke.”

Although fewer people than ever still smoke, PHE is concerned that it remains much more common among certain groups, including younger women, and is a major source of health inequalities.

For example, while just 10% of married people smoke, 21.2% of those who are single do so, as do 18.8% of those who have been widowed, divorced or separated. And while 15.7% of people who live with others smoke, 27.8% of those living alone light up. And the jobless, those in routine and manual jobs and those without a degree are between two and three times more likely than the employed, those in managerial and professional roles and graduates to use cigarettes.

“The decline in deaths since 2007 from smoking-related heart attacks and strokes shows the effectiveness of a comprehensive approach by government to tackle smoking,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health.

“But there are still over 30,000 premature deaths a year from smoking-related heart attacks and stroke, and the government strategy for tackling this public health epidemic expired at the end of 2015. We need an ambitious new government strategy to be put in place immediately if deaths from smoking are to decline as fast in the next decade as they have in the last.”

UK heart disease deaths fall by over 20% since indoor smoking ban

Deaths from heart disease and strokes caused by smoking have fallen dramatically since lighting up in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed public places in England was banned 10 years ago.

New figures have shown that the number of smokers aged 35 and over dying from heart attacks and other cardiac conditions has dropped by over 20% since 2007 while fatalities from a stroke are almost 14% down.

The statistics, which Public Health England (PHE) has shared with the Guardian, come as medical, public health and anti-tobacco groups prepare to mark the 10th anniversary next Friday of smoking being prohibited in indoor public places by Tony Blair’s Labour government on 1 July 2007.

Figures collected by PHE’s Local Tobacco Control Profiles network show that while there were 32,548 deaths from heart disease attributable to smoking in 2007-09, there were 25,777 between 2013 and 2015 – a fall of 20.8%. Similarly, a total of 9,743 smokers died from a stroke in 2007-09, but fewer – 8,334 – between 2013 and 2015, a drop of 14.5%.

Duncan Selbie, PHE’s chief executive, hailed the figures as proof of the ban’s huge beneficial impact on health. “The law has played a key part in the huge cultural change we have seen in the past decade, especially among younger people, a change that has literally saved thousands from disabling chronic diseases and premature death,” he told the Guardian.

“The smokefree legislation has been extraordinary in the way we now experience and enjoy pubs, clubs, restaurants and so many other public places. It was undoubtedly the single most important public health reform in generations,” he added.

The decline in smoking-related heart deaths is especially significant because smoking still accounts for about one in every six deaths in England – about 79,000 people a year. Fatalities due to heart disease make up a substantial proportion of them. Smoking-related deaths are three times more likely to occur among poorer people than those from better-off backgrounds, research showed.

The Health Act 2006, which introduced the ban in England, was the first of 10 pieces of legislation over 10 years that have helped drive down smoking’s popularity to its lowest level ever, Selbie said. The numbers of people across the UK who smoke has fallen over the last year from 17.2% to 15.8%, according to the most recent figures from NHS Digital, published last month.

England was the last UK nation to bring in a ban. Scotland did so in March 2006 and Wales and Northern Ireland followed in April 2007. The Blair government initially considered exempting bars, private clubs and pubs where no food was served. But it instead decided to impose a blanket ban after MPs and doctors criticised the exemptions as unfair, unworkable and likely to harm the health of staff breathing in secondhand smoke in premises where smoking continued.

“We’ve seen cigarettes stubbed out in public places, become far less visible in shops and had large graphic warnings put on packs starkly explaining what these things do to the human body – and all the misery and death they cause,” added Selbie.

“Its legacy has had a phenomenally positive impact on societal attitudes to smoking. Smokers have seized the opportunity by quitting in unprecedented numbers and of those still smoking, half have chosen to smoke outside their own homes to protect their families from secondhand smoke.”

Although fewer people than ever still smoke, PHE is concerned that it remains much more common among certain groups, including younger women, and is a major source of health inequalities.

For example, while just 10% of married people smoke, 21.2% of those who are single do so, as do 18.8% of those who have been widowed, divorced or separated. And while 15.7% of people who live with others smoke, 27.8% of those living alone light up. And the jobless, those in routine and manual jobs and those without a degree are between two and three times more likely than the employed, those in managerial and professional roles and graduates to use cigarettes.

“The decline in deaths since 2007 from smoking-related heart attacks and strokes shows the effectiveness of a comprehensive approach by government to tackle smoking,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health.

“But there are still over 30,000 premature deaths a year from smoking-related heart attacks and stroke, and the government strategy for tackling this public health epidemic expired at the end of 2015. We need an ambitious new government strategy to be put in place immediately if deaths from smoking are to decline as fast in the next decade as they have in the last.”