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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 May 2006, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Heart disease is biggest killer
Heart monitor
Heart disease kills 16% of women
Heart disease still kills more people in England and Wales than any other condition, official figures show.

Office for National Statistics data showed one in five men and around one in six women died from heart disease, including heart attacks, in 2005.

The ONS' first "top 10" list of causes of death found cerebrovascular disease - mainly strokes - was the second most common killer in men and women.

Pneumonia was the third most common cause of death for women.

Heart disease - 20.2%
Cerebrovascular diseases - 7.9%
Lung cancer - 6.9%
Chronic lower respiratory disease - 5.6%
Flu/pneumonia - 5%
Prostate cancer - 3.7%
Colon cancer - 3.1%
Lymph cancers - 2.3%
Alzheimer's disease/dementia - 2.1%
Aortic aneurysm - 2%

Peter Weissberg, Medical Director for the British Heart Foundation said: "With almost 2.6m people in the UK living with heart and circulatory disease, the results are consistent with those recently launched by the BHF.

"In 2004, continuing the progress seen since the 1970s, the coronary heart disease death rate fell by 7% to 106,000 deaths.

"However, almost a third of these were premature deaths among people under 75 - something the BHF is committed to ending.

"This confirms what we already know - that there's still much more work to be done."

'Constant vigilance'

The ONS figures showed that heart disease was mentioned on a total of 89,174 death certificates last year.

The figures also showed hospital deaths where the Clostridium difficile bacterium was mentioned on the death certificate more than doubled between 1999 and 2004.

In 1999, it was mentioned on 975 certificates - rising to 2,247 in 2004.

The number of deaths for which C. difficile was identified as the underlying cause was similar in every year - about 55%.

Most deaths, the majority of which occur in NHS hospitals, were in patients aged over 65 who were already seriously ill with another condition.

Health Minister Andy Burnham said: "Any avoidable infection is one too many, and constant vigilance is needed across our NHS to ensure that the risk of infection is minimised.

Heart disease - 16%
Cerebrovascular disease - 12.9%
Flu/pneumonia - 7.9%
Alzheimer's disease/dementia - 5.2%
Chronic lower respiratory disease - 5.2%
Lung cancer - 4.9%
Breast cancer - 4.5%
Heart failure - 3%
Colon cancer - 2.7%
Urinary diseases - 2.5%

"But it has to be recognised that in an organisation admitting 12 million people a year there will be a number of people who contract an infection.

"It is sadly true that many people who contract C difficile and subsequently die are very, very sick people who are prone to infection.

"Not all infections are avoidable, but we are ensuring that the NHS has good hygiene and clinical procedures to prevent the ones that are."

He said the Department of Health was drawing up legislation to enable a tougher inspection regime.

Mortality rate is 'lowest ever'
12 May 05 |  Health

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