People are more likely to leave work due to a heart condition than any other health issue, a report reveals.

Someone with the onset of cardiovascular disease between 2021 and 2022 had a 22 per cent likelihood of leaving their job.

This compares with 14 per cent of those affected by poor mental health and 16 per cent of those diagnosed with cancer, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Of working-age people who are economically inactive, almost one in three have a heart, blood pressure or circulatory health condition.

This is particularly acute for people over the age of 50, which is currently the government’s target group for getting back into work.

This chart shows the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease in the under 75s in England (blue bars) which is the number of deaths per 100,000 people as well as sheer number of deaths (red line). Medical breakthroughs and advanced screening techniques helped lower these figures from 2004, but progress began to stall in the early 2010s before reversing in the last few years of data

This chart shows the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease in the under 75s in England (blue bars) which is the number of deaths per 100,000 people as well as sheer number of deaths (red line). Medical breakthroughs and advanced screening techniques helped lower these figures from 2004, but progress began to stall in the early 2010s before reversing in the last few years of data 

While some warning signs are easy to spot ¿ such as severe chest pain ¿ others are more vague and hard to pinpoint

While some warning signs are easy to spot — such as severe chest pain — others are more vague and hard to pinpoint

There is significant variation in the number of people dying from cardiovascular disease across England and Wales, with the North West particularly badly affected.

If the entire of the UK had the same outcomes as the best tenth of local authorities, there would have been 32,000 fewer deaths in 2021 alone, analysis by the think tank reveals.

This is the equivalent of five per cent of all deaths from any cause nationwide.

Researchers say many of these deaths could have been avoided if progress in preventing heart disease had not slowed over the past decade.

Had we maintained even half the progress on preventable cardiovascular disease mortality observed between 2005 and 2010, the report estimates that there would have been nearly 33,000 fewer deaths in 2019 — one in 20 deaths that year.

While NHS waiting lists have been steadily growing over recent years, exacerbated by the pandemic, cardiology waiting lists have tripled since 2012, higher than the growth in the overall NHS waiting lists.

Experts say heart disease is highly preventable, with around 80 per cent of heart disease deaths being avoidable.

IPPR is now calling on the government to implement a recovery plan for treating cardiovascular disease, helping both the NHS and the economy.

It says this could be achieved if there was a focus on improving diets, reducing obesity, improving physical activity and reducing smoking rates and pollution.

The think tank wants new ‘preventative policies’, such as extending the sugar tax on soft drinks to all high-fat and high-salt products, and using the revenue to subsidise healthy food options, and better access to preventative medicines, such as statins.

It is also demanding more efforts to retain specialist healthcare staff and more funding for research around cardiovascular disease.

Report author Chris Thomas, head of IPPR’s commission on health and prosperity, said: ‘After great strides in tackling cardiovascular disease in the 20th century, the UK is now stalling if not reversing.

‘This is not just costing lives, but also livelihoods. The good news is that heart disease is one of the most preventable health conditions, but the government has to get on to the front foot and deliver proactive policies.

‘Both human lives and economic prosperity depend on it.’

John Maingay, director of policy at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘These hugely concerning findings show the profound impact heart disease is having on our health and wealth.

‘So much cardiovascular disease is preventable, and this report clearly shows how much we could gain as a society if we take bold action to address one of the nation’s biggest causes of death and disability.

‘But at the moment, every part of the system providing heart care is in urgent need of attention, from prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, to crucial research that could give us faster and better treatments.

‘And, worryingly, premature deaths from heart disease are at a 14-year high.

‘We can’t ignore this any longer — politicians must get a grip of this crisis, so we can build a healthier and wealthier nation for all.’

WHAT IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR MY HEALTH?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if untreated, it increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

More than one in four adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many won’t realise it.

The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked.

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.

The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

As a general guide:

  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
  • ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
  • low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower
  • A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don’t take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.

Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as:

  • heart disease
  • heart attacks
  • strokes
  • heart failure
  • peripheral arterial disease
  • aortic aneurysms
  • kidney disease
  • vascular dementia

Source: NHS

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