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What kills people before their time?

May 27, 2013

The one certainty in life is that it will end in death but the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed last week that 113,910 people who died in the UK in 2011 could still be alive. Their deaths were avoidable. Avoidable deaths are caused a disease that develops because of the way you choose to live your life. Cases of lung cancer due to smoking may be avoided if you don’t smoke. Dying from coronary heart disease due to fatty deposits in your arteries may be avoided by watching your weight, doing more exercise and eating a healthier diet. The ONS data shows that, in 2011, almost a quarter of people (24%) who died in England could still be here if they had followed a healthier lifestyle. The figures also show that:

  • 22% of avoidable deaths in men were due to coronary heart disease.
  • 15% of avoidable deaths in women were due to lung cancer.
  • People in the north of England are more likely to die of an avoidable cause than people in the south and east.
  • People in poor communities are three times more likely to die of heart disease than people living in communities that are affluent.

Dr Paul Glynne, Founder Director at The Physicians’ Clinic welcomes the news that the number of avoidable deaths as fallen by 28% in the last 10 years. “Many different organisations and health professionals have contributed and we have made huge progress in reducing deaths due to poor lifestyle choices. There is, however, still a long way to go with thousands of people dying sooner than they should be.”

Preventing avoidable deaths

The key to preventing death from lung cancer and heart disease is active promotion of health and well being. The recipe is simple:

  • Never smoke and if you do, stop.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet, rich in fresh food and low in processed, refined foods.
  • Take regular exercise – at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days of the week.
  • Keep the amount of alcohol you drink down to 21 units per week for men and 14 units per week for women with at least 2 alcohol free days each week.
  • Get adequate sleep and control stress.

However, as Dr Glynne recognises: “The problem is, simple is not the same as easy. Although most people realise they need to drink less, give up smoking, get some exercise and stop eating junk food, there is a wide gulf between thinking it’s a good idea and actually doing it.

The value of tailored health assessments

Although chain smoking and being obese are clear and obvious warning signs, sometimes it is not easy to know if you are at high risk of heart disease. A poor diet combined with a particular genetic background can mean that you are a normal weight but your arteries are badly affected by fatty plaques, putting you are risk of a stroke or heart attack. “At the Physicians’ Clinic it is possible to have tailored health assessments that are individually devised depending on your own medical history, your concerns and your family history. These may include blood tests to check your cholesterol level, CT coronary calcium scoring, which detects the earliest signs that your arteries may be affected and CT coronary angiography, which visualises the coronary arteries. The results will inform you about your own individual risks and which lifestyle changes and treatment are needed to decrease those risks and set you back on the path to a longer, healthier life,” explains Dr Glynne.

Make an appointment for a tailored health assessment

Email info@thephysiciansclinic.co.uk or call 0207 034 8164 to arrange your tailored health assessment. Find out more about some of the diagnostic tests that are available as part of a tailored health assessment. Photo credit: Coronary angiogram from Maria A Pantaleo, Anna Mandrioli, Maristella Saponara, Margherita Nannini, Giovanna Erente, Cristian Lolli and Guido Biasco : Development of coronary artery stenosis in a patient with metastatic renal cell carcinoma treated with sorafenib. BMC Cancer, 2012, 12:231 doi.10.1186/1471-2407-12-231. Published: 11 June 2012

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