Published on 23 August 2018

New study predicts 29% more heart attacks and strokes by 2035.

A huge rise in the number of heart attacks and strokes in England is predicted over the next two decades, connected to an estimated 1 million new diagnoses of diabetes, according to a leading heart health charity.

An estimated 39,000 people with diabetes could be at risk of having a heart attack in 2035 – according to recently published research by the British Heart Foundation.

Based on current health trends, the figure represents a rise of 9,000 heart attacks for people with diabetes compared to 2015.

In addition, more than 50,000 people could be at risk of having a stroke – a rise of 11,000.

The report said “worsening lifestyles and the UK’s growing obesity rates” were to blame for a predicted rise in new cases of diabetes.

The number of people living with diabetes in England today is around 4 million people - and this figure is expected to rise to more than 5 million over the next 20 years.

The vast majority of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, with just 10% diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the UK.

People with diabetes are twice to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without diabetes.

The report said that the rise in diabetes cases was expected to trigger a sharp increase in deadly heart and circulatory problems. 

Man having chest pain.

In addition to heart attack and stroke, the rise in people newly diagnosed with diabetes would lead to an increase in the number of people suffering from conditions including angina and heart failure.

The report said: “This rise is likely to put an unprecedented burden on the NHS, with previous estimates suggesting the yearly cost of treating people with diabetes will be £16.9 billion by 2035, up from £9.8 billion in 2012.

“We are highlighting the urgent need for ‘bold action’ to tackle lifestyle factors, such as obesity and a poor diet, that are leading to spiraling rates of diabetes, as well as a greater focus within the health sector on earlier diagnosis.

“We also know that more research is urgently needed to improve our understanding of how diabetes and heart and circulatory diseases are connected, and to develop new treatments for people living with these multiple conditions.” 

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at British Heart Foundation, said: “Thanks to research we have made excellent progress in improving survival rates for heart attacks and strokes. However, today’s figures point to an extremely worrying trend. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases and the expected surge in diabetes cases by 2035 could put thousands more people at risk of a deadly heart attack or stroke.

“We can only reverse this trend by taking bold action to tackle obesity and inactivity, especially amongst young people. This must include consideration of further regulatory action to reduce sugar and fat content in food, and to curb junk food advertising directed at young children. The food industry is not acting quickly enough to re-formulate its products, despite mounting evidence of their impact on the nation’s health.”  

“We also need continued research that will enable us to better understand how diabetes leads to these deadly heart and circulatory conditions, and how we can stop it.”

Sarah Miles, 43, from Somerset, had a heart attack and cardiac arrest shortly after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes five years ago, and is now living with heart failure.

Sarah said: “Living with diabetes is difficult, but to then have a heart attack was a total shock. The attack led to heart failure which has severely limited my quality of life. I’ve had to give up my nursing career, my social life and my family dynamic has totally changed forever.

“To think that these conditions are on the rise is extremely worrying, and people need to be aware of how they can prevent them in the first place. I was also surprised by how little my doctors knew about the connection between my diabetes and heart problems, which shows the real need for research into new treatments.”

Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Medical Director at Public Health England, said: “Everyone can make important lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These include losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising regularly and cutting back on alcohol.”

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