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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 12:11 GMT
Ageing population 'to strain NHS'
elderly man
The over 65 population is expected to top 14m by 2031
The ageing population will place a huge strain on the NHS, a study says.

The number of over 65s in the UK is expected to rise by 53% between 2001 and 2031 to over 14m, with little change in the younger population.

Research firm Dr Foster predicted there would be rises in chronic disease using current data from GPs and hospitals, the British Medical Journal reported.

The government said plans to improve public health would help relieve some of the pressure.

The researchers predicted that by 2031 the number of cases of coronary heart disease would increase by 44% to 3.19m, with hospital admission rising by a third.

Healthy eating and physical activity have an enormous impact on health improvement, reducing the risk of major chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer
Department of Health spokeswoman

Cases of heart failure were predicted to rise by 54% to 1.3 million in 2031, with admissions up 55%.

And cases of irregular heart beat, known as atrial fibrillation, were predicted to rise by 46% to 1.09 million, with hospital admissions increasing by 39%.

The researchers said: "If realised, these increases will have important implications for the NHS."

They said cholesterol lowering drugs called statins had become the single biggest component of the NHS prescribing budget and their cost was likely to increase further.

But they added the costs of other drugs, diagnostic tests and surgical procedures was also likely to place pressure on the health service.

Lifestyles

The team said if people adopted healthier lifestyles the impact on the NHS could be lessened.

The report said a key aim of government policy should therefore be to encourage people to remain active, engage in regular exercise and refrain from behaviours that could have a detrimental effect on their health, such as binge drinking, smoking and overeating.

Last year the government published a Public Health White Paper which proposed a series of measures to encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Smoking is set to be banned in workplaces from summer 2007, with the exception of pubs which do not serve food.

And the white paper encouraged councils and local health bodies to work together to help people become healthier.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Healthy eating and physical activity have an enormous impact on health improvement, reducing the risk of major chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

"The white paper sets out a range of measures which will allow people to make healthier choices in their lives."




SEE ALSO:
Push for elderly community care
08 Nov 05 |  Health
Patients 'to get two-GP option'
07 Nov 05 |  Health


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